ROGERS, Ark. — For over a decade, the Police Athletic League (PAL) and Benton County Sheriff's Department have hosted their Shop with a Cop shopping spree.
Chris Sparks, PAL President, recalls an instance when he was on the SWAT team that sparked the idea for the event.
"We made a late-night entry into a house," said Sparks. "You can imagine what kids go through when they're in that environment."
The encounter led to Sparks realizing there was a need to reconnect with the community and show kids that law enforcement is there to help.
Since then, Shop with a Cop has been an annual success.
With a full police escort, kids are picked up from local schools and taken to Walmart to shop for friends, family and themselves to celebrate the holidays with gifts they may not usually receive.
Inside the Pleasant Grove Walmart today, kids and deputies alike were beaming and excited for this year's event.
Lieutenant Shannon Jenkins with the Benton County Sheriff's Department described the kids' overwhelming generosity.
"We've had kids just not want us to spend money on them because they don't want us to use our money, but that's why we're here," she said. "We are here to gift them these items."
The children are chosen to participate by school counselors, and it isn't always an income-based decision. Most of the time, the choice is who needs the connection most.
After spending time walking the aisles of Walmart, the kids spent more time connecting with deputies as they were treated to lunch and games at Dave & Busters before heading back to their schools to end the day.
Next week, the Benton County Sheriff's Department and PAL will take the next round of kids out to Shop with a Cop, impacting nearly seventy kids this holiday season.