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To protect, serve and shop
Times photo: Brian Gray Monroe Police Officer Chris Hammel helps a girl find the perfect doll for Christmas Saturday at the annual Shop with a Cop event at Walmart. Kids were able to spend up to $100 to buy Christmas presents.
MONROE - Police officers from around the county spent a couple of hours Saturday helping children buy Christmas gifts at the annual "Shop with a Cop" event at Walmart.

New Glarus Police Chief Steve Allbaugh, who co-chairs the program with Albany Police Chief Bob Levitt, said it allows children to see police officers from a different perspective.

Allbaugh said about 130 children took part in the program last year and estimated at least that many took part Saturday.

Nancy Brooks, Walmart co-manager, said this was the first year she was able to attend "Shop with a Cop."

"It's really wonderful," she said.

In its eighth year, the program allows children to spend up to $100 for presents.

As they walked up and down the aisles, children didn't just look for things they wanted. They looked for presents for their parents and siblings. Without thinking about it, they demonstrated the true spirit of the season.

"I want to buy a doll for my sister," one girl said as she looked at the toys.

Children were paired with sheriff's deputies, detectives and police officers from around the county. Once the children had a shopping partner, the tandem walked down the aisles with shopping carts and lists of what to buy.

The police officers involved also get something out of the experience. They get to know they are helping the children understand the meaning of Christmas.

Officers smiled as they helped the kids pick their toys from the shelves. A few of the children, not sure where to go, held onto the officers' hands as they walked up and down and aisles.

Brooks said if a child spent more than $100 it was OK.

"We don't worry if they go a couple dollars over," she said.

There also were plenty of volunteers to help wrap the presents so the children could take them home and put them under their trees.

Green County Law Enforcement Administrator Association sponsored the program, along with the help of Walmart.