JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Christmas is coming early for families in Jersey City who may not even be able to afford a tree.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman showed, the “Shop With a Cop” program is bringing holiday cheer to those who need it most.
For two nights, Jersey City police officers are personal shoppers for more than 100 local kids who weren’t expecting to get anything this year.
“Little Jacob didn’t know how Santa was gonna find us since we weren’t home,” Jersey City mom Melissa Torres said. “It came at the perfect time.”
Jacob and his brother Donovan have spent the last month in a motel after their house burned down. Their mom doesn’t know how many more nights her family can afford.
“For at least those few hours they can pick whatever toy they want and not have to worry about amount or cost,” Melissa said.
“Shop With a Cop” is funded each year by donations. 7-year-old Sherlynn didn’t skip a single pink shelf in choosing her gift.
“I’m actually expecting a little girl in March so I’m starting to learn what I need to buy for girls,” Officer Raymond Sanchez said.
Each kid gets a $100 gift card to spend however they choose. Even on a budget, a lot of the kids buy presents to give to their families.
“I got my little sister a doll because I promised I’d give her one,” 7-year-old Jayla White said.
As the shopping carts filled, excitement grew and the cops-turned-chaperons became playmates.
“They get to know each other and then when they see them in the community they’ll remember that officer,” Captain Nick Scerbo said.
The officers aren’t sliding down any chimneys any time soon, but they’re doling out every bit as much holiday magic in Hudson County as there is in the North Pole.