For dozens of Fort Dodge children, Christmas came early on Tuesday thanks to the efforts of local law enforcement agencies.
Santa Cops, which has been around since 2000, provides local children the chance spend $100 with a local law enforcement officer on whatever they want at Target.
This year was no exception, with members of the Fort Dodge Police Department, Webster County Sheriff's Department and Iowa State Patrol, as well as reserve officers and chiefs of smaller departments helping kids find what they or a loved one wanted for Christmas.
Rachia Barrett, 5, of Fort Dodge, indicates which video game she would like with her toe as she shops with Fort Dodge Police officer Matt Lundberg Tuesday evening during the Santa Cops event at the Fort Dodge Target store. The game was the first item on Barrett’s list.
Cassie Frazier, of Fort Dodge, went along with her daughter, Rashia Barrett, 5, as she shopped with Sgt. Matt Lundberg of the Fort Dodge Police Department.
"I think it's awesome," Frazier said about Santa Cops. "It's good that the cops are able to give back to the kids so they can have a Christmas."
She said her daughter was really excited about shopping with police.
"She even went to bed early last night," Frazier said.
Taylor Christian, 10, participated in Santa Cops while her sister, Elle McCarthy, 10, both of Fort Dodge, acted as her "helper."
Christian, who went shopping with Det. Jason Bahr, of the Webster County Sheriff's Department, had only one thing on her mind.
"I like shopping," she said. "Everything's about shopping."
McCarthy said she enjoyed being Christian's assistant.
"I like helping Taylor pick out stuff and what she wants to buy," McCarthy said.
"She always does," Christian added.
Jasmine Straw, 5, of Fort Dodge, also enjoyed shopping with cops, although she was a little shy in expressing it.
She said her favorite part of shopping was buying new dolls.
Her mother, Amanda Straw, added her daughter was really excited about Santa Cops.
"It was fun," she said.
For the officers involved, Santa Cops provides an opportunity to get to know the children in the community.
"It gives us a chance to interact with them," Bahr said. "Santa Cops lets the kids know that we're the good guys and they can come to us for anything."
Lundberg echoed Bahr's comments.
"It's about just being able to have good interaction with the kids," he said. "It gives them the opportunity to see us in another light."
The money for Santa Cops comes from community donations. The 80 to 100 kids who participate in Santa Cops are found through the schools and have been identified as those who are most in need.
Santa Cops continues tonight at Target.