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Santa was in Monticello Saturday and he didn’t arrive on a sleigh. He drove a police cruiser. Monticello police officers got to play Santa Saturday morning when they took 23 children from low-income families to Walmart for a Christmas shopping spree. It was the first of what Monticello Police Chief Eddy Deaton hopes will be an annual event.

The police department received a $2,300 Walmart grant providing $100 each to 23 local children. Two Monticello churches, the Revival Center and First Assembly of God, assisted the police department with the selection of children for the shopping spree.

“This was one of the most rewarding things we have ever been involved in,” Deaton said. “The smile and joy in the kids faces was awesome.”

When the children arrived at Walmart Saturday morning the officers took them through the store to pick out whatever they wanted. Especially heartwarming was the selfless little boy who was thinking not of himself but of his mother.

When the officer asked the 10-year-old boy where he would like to start his shopping spree, the boy said he wanted to buy something for his mother. So, off they went to Walmart’s jewelry department where he initially selected a piece of jewelry that would have used all of his money. He was shown other jewelry and ultimately chose another piece for his mother that he liked as well as the more expensive piece.

With money left to purchase something for himself, the officer, thinking the boy might like an Xbox game, asked him what department he wanted to go to next.

He chose the clothing department. He wanted to buy something to wear for Christmas.

“Do you play Xbox games?” the officer asked the boy.

“No, I don’t have anything like that, we have to buy food,” the boy replied.

The 23 children selected for this program are from low-income working families.

In addition to making the Christmas season a little brighter for the children and their families, it gives the kids an opportunity to interact with the police officers in a positive way.