LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Law enforcement officers from Jones County were walking the aisles of Walmart in Laurel Thursday night. But, they weren't looking for criminals.
Instead, they were seeking bargains for children in need.
They were helping kids and their families pick out clothing and toys as part of the Jones County Sheriff's Dept.'s Shop with the Sheriff program.
One dozen youngsters were given $200 each to spend on whatever they wanted. Law officers escorted the children and kept up with the purchases. They also pushed the shopping carts.
"We're very grateful," said Holly Hutto, a parent of one of the children being helped. "We're so thankful that they could help make her Christmas so much better," she said.
"It helps me out a whole lot and I'm thanking them very much for what they're doing," said Annie Hicks, a grandparent who was shopping with her family.
"It's fantastic, it gives us a chance to give back to our community and see the smiles on these kids faces," said Jack Armstrong, one of the deputies who was escorting the children.
Sheriff Alex Hodge said nearly one dozen sponsors helped fund the event for the families, who are referred to the program in various ways.
"The deputies, throughout the year, interacting with families, we're identifying them that way," said Hodge. "We identify families through the schools, as well as through our victims' advocate programs," he said.
This was the seventh year for the Shop with the Sheriff program.