RIVERDALE -- It felt like Christmas had come already Saturday as more than 70 children got to spend their morning shopping with local heroes for themselves and their families.
Walmart employees waited with smiles on their faces as law enforcement officers from all over Weber County pulled in the store parking lot with sirens blaring and lights flashing, accompanied by children who the officers have dealt with through their line of work. The kids wouldn't be getting a Christmas otherwise.
"It's fun to watch the kids," said Walmart training manager Kristen Love. She is always amazed by the generosity of the kids who usually end up buying more gifts for their families than for themselves.
As the children piled out of the cars, Santa came rolling up in a Bearcat armored police vehicle with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" ringing from the loud speaker.
Children clapped, smiled and tried to see Santa's every move as he found a spot to sit and talk with the children inside the store. Some opted to sit on his lap first, while others were eager to get shopping, many taking their law enforcement officer by the hand as they walked up and down the aisles, pointing to items they wanted to check out to see if they wanted to get it. Others sat right inside the shopping carts pointing out what gifts to add to the cart.
This is the 8th year for the "Shop with a Hero" program. The biggest donor for the event is Bonneville High School. Students raised more than $10,000 for the program this year and the student body and class officers also attended Saturday's event. The officers as well as Bonneville students treated the children to breakfast at Village Inn in Roy before shopping.
Bonneville student body vice president Hailey Daniels clapped as the students pulled into the parking lot. She and fellow students laughed and jumped up and down in the cold, waiting to help with the shopping. The students also wrapped the gifts the children picked out.
Daniels said students raise funds for the event all year long. They usually raise about $8,000 but this year they were thrilled to be able to raise more than $10,000, which added more kids to the list to be helped.
"It's so awesome. It's the highlight of my season," Daniels said.
Daniels said that each student is given $100 to spend and that sometimes the police officers kick in more money so the kids can get the things they desire most.
Roy police officer Kyle Christensen was being guided around the store by 5-year-old Camilla. She said she was very excited to be shopping with Christensen.
"I want to get one of those toy kitchens and those little cars you ride in," she said with a big smile, her red hair bouncing as she walked.
Christensen smiled as she talked. "I love seeing their faces," he said. "I love dealing with them in a positive way," he added.