wjxt logo

200 kids get early Christmas in annual shopping event with police, firefighters

JaxPAL event in its 12th year sends kids on shopping spree at Walmart

Photo does not have a caption

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of children got the chance to "Shop with a Cop" Wednesday morning as part of the 12th annual Police Athletic League Christmas for the Kids event in Jacksonville.

Police officers and firefighters took 200 children shopping with Walmart gift cards.

The children bought clothes, toys, personal hygiene items and more.

They arrived at the event in a JTA holiday-themed bus driven by Santa.

Officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Duval County School Police Department and firefighters with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue participated in the event with children and families from the Police Athletic League of Jacksonville, the Sulzbacher Center and Gateway Community Services.

The children were paired with an officer or firefighter and took a photo with Santa before their one-hour shopping spree.

They were treated to a McDonald's Happy Meal, courtesy of Edgard and Sabrina Gerena, who own and operate a local McDonald's franchise.

Biscayne Elementary School students sang the National Anthem to kick off the event.

The event is spearheaded by JaxPAL Board Member Stephen Vining and retired JSO Maj. Steve Weintraub. The event is made possible through the support of the 103rd Street Walmart, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO), Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD), Duval County School Police Department and sponsors including Jax Sober Living, the Demetree Family Foundation, as well as numerous other private donors.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.