HEWLETT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There were some heartwarming moments Monday at a Long Island toy store where police treated more than a hundred children to an early Christmas.

It was the annual shopping spree for children who aren’t expecting a home visit from Santa Claus because they live in homeless shelters.

“It’s Christmas. Its Chanukah. It’s about giving back. You got all young kids shopping,” said Patrick Ryder, the Nassau County police commissioner.

Children shop at Matty’s Toy Stop in Hewlett. (Credit: CBS2)

100 children were each given $110 gift certificates — which covers tax, too — to be spent at Matty’s Toy Stop in Hewlett.

It is a gift from the Nassau County PBA and the Police Foundation, forging positive relationships to last a lifetime.

“Your earliest memories create your reality and we are the good guys,” said Nassau PBA President James McDermott. “Hopefully that sticks with them.”

One in 30 kids in America experience homelessness. That’s 2.5 million children.

More than 400 homeless families live in emergency homeless housing in Nassau County.

“After the government shut down, I was working for the TSA and the 37 days without pay caused my family grave devastation,” said Ebony Billingsteg, who is a mother.

“It’s a blessing because they truly appreciate every little thing they truly get,” said another mom, Melissa Rizzo.

We are in a bad situation, so it is a relief,” said Jennifer Guzman, who is also a mother. “They’re going to have a toy for Christmas.”

Former New York Giants football player Jay Bromley says far more important than the toys is the message to these children that they matter.

“More so is the conversation you have — that’s more lasting than the toy,” he said. “It about your impact and how you can help people and what you can give back to people.”

The children, not only learning their joy of receiving but also the a lifelong lesson of gratitude and generosity

“I think if they walked out the door with nothing, they’d be happy. They know the true meaning of Christmas, so each one is picking up an extra item for someone who couldn’t be here,” said Edna Robinson, who is a grandmother.


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