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The Roanoke Rapids Police Department and its partners will take 45 children on a shopping spree Saturday for the annual Christmas for Kids program.

“With the generous donations from local businesses and others we’ll have a little left for emergency situations,” said Chief Bobby Martin. “We’re very happy with this program.”

This year’s event will not include the traditional Chick-fil-A breakfast due to continued COVID-19 concerns so it will be on to Walmart at 10 a.m. for the first group and then a second group between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Martin said the police department is appreciative of the business and other donations which help children get clothes and toys. “What we know is without us providing this event I know the majority of these children would not have as much on Christmas Day. It’s no fault of their own. We never look at where someone’s from and this is not about the police department getting a photo. It’s about one human helping another.”

As has been the tradition, the city’s fire department will assist in the event. “We invite our council members, the administration at city hall. We feel like every year the fire department has been on point helping as well as the other departments.”

The event also gives the children who are being helped a chance to see law enforcement in a different light, Martin said.

And it gives those volunteering a chance to see the outward signs of appreciation from those being helped. “If you have never seen a child’s face after taking them to get items they normally wouldn’t get, it brings tears to your eyes. They’ll buy gifts for older siblings. It restores my faith in humanity,” the police chief said. “When I walk away there’s a sense we accomplished something. We’ve helped kids, helped the families. This is a huge community policing event. We’re part of the community. It is one of the most satisfying things you can do.”

Martin said it is something the police department looks forward to each year. “We just can’t wait to see the kids and go shopping with them. Without donations and business sponsors, this would not be as successful. We’re overwhelmed with the help we’ve received and are grateful.”

Anyone who would like to contribute or needs more information is encouraged to call Martin or Tina May at 252-533-2810.