HEWLETT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Some disadvantaged children, many of them bused in from homeless shelters, got holiday thrills Friday.

They were treated to an early Christmas, courtesy of the Nassau County police unions.

Many of the 150 children are living in shelters. But at Matty’s Toy Stop, they were just kids enjoying the magic of Christmas.

“I’m shopping for my cousins,” one child told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

Nassau police unions gave out $110 gift certificates during their annual day of giving back, and giving smiles amid heartbreaking stories of evictions and job losses,

“Does it mean your kids are getting Christmas presents they would not have?” Gusoff asked one parent.

“Yes, so I appreciate it,” said Christina Fuller. “It means a lot. It does. They’re thankful.”

“We’re going through a lot,” said Keneal Watson, a homeless father of three. “It was a struggle, a real struggle, and it’s a blessing and I thank God for that.”

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“They get to see the good side of law enforcement these kids will remember this forever,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.

Back for his second year was NFL player Jason Bromley of the New Orleans Saints.

“I come from poverty and high crime. I know what that’s like,” Bromley said. “If I can help them that they too can make it, it’s all about aspiring.”

One in 30 kids in America experience homelessness, that’s 2.5 million children, including some 750 families in Nassau County.

“We often think Long Island, everyone’s wealthy, but that’s not the case, homelessness is still a problem,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

“I look forward to doing it every year and will look forward to doing it next year,” said James McDermott, president of the Nassau PBA.

Police say they get out of this day as much as they give.


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