KENNEWICK -- Dozens of law enforcement officials converged at the Kennewick Walmart on Saturday morning.
But instead of catching criminals, they helped 30 kids who had a tough year trying to catch a break.
After a breakfast at Blimpie Sub Sandwiches, each child got a $100 debit card courtesy of the Fraternal Order of Police and an officer or two to tag along and mind the budget.
The money had to stretch to cover some lengthy lists of presents for grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends.
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But most of the kids had come prepared with a plan after doing some family reconnaissance.
"I got to get this right, or he'll start crying," said Veronica, 11, as she looked over superhero toys for a little brother.
"Oh, he looks cool," she said, pulling an alien figure off the shelf.
She shopped with Deputy Kasey Kist of the Benton County Sheriff's Office, who brought his wife, Jennifer, along.
"I need the help," he said. "I'm not good at shopping."
Officers and volunteers raised some of the money for "Cops and Kids" by waiting tables at Olive Garden in Kennewick earlier this month, bringing in $2,100 to help with the shopping Saturday. Officers donated their time, not just for the fundraising but also the shopping.
The shopping trip benefits not just the children, but also the officers, said Sgt. Mark Weber of the Kennewick Police Department, which takes the lead to organize the event.
It gives them a chance to spend time in a positive way with children who may associate police officers with traumatic events in their families.
"It breaks down barriers," Weber said. "They see us as people."
That didn't seem to be a problem for kids Saturday.
Corrections officer Jessica Brave Thunder combed through the Barbie outfits with an 11-year-old shopper.
"Sporty or glamorous?" the Benton County officer asked.
Definitely glamorous, her shopper decided.
Richland Police Officer Dave Grant led fellow officer Clem Matylinski and a young shopper straight to the toy section.
It's the first place he heads when he visits the store with his own son, he said.
Kist need not have worried about his shopping skills.
Veronica turned out to be a pro. Last year she had $12 for all her Christmas shopping, so she knows how to stick to a budget, she said.
She stretched her $100 to buy gifts for about 10 family members. One of her favorites was a necklace for her grandmother with space for both of their birthstones.
"Put them together, and it's like we never left each other," she said, her eyes shining.
When the cashier rang up a total a few dollars over $100 -- sales tax hadn't been included in the budget -- Kist whipped out his own debit card over Veronica's objections.
The children went home not only with their Christmas shopping done, but also with a wrapped present from Santa for themselves.
Law enforcement officials who participated included officers from Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, West Richland, the Washington State Patrol, Benton County and Franklin County. Kennewick Police Citizen Volunteers and Pasco Explorers also helped.
Next Saturday, Pasco police have organized another Fraternal Order of Police Cops and Kids event at the Pasco Walmart to help 15 needy families have a merry Christmas.