COLUMBIA FALLS - The Columbia Falls Police Department is getting into the spirit of giving with an annual event that leaves local kids with a big smile.
Officers recently took 12 lucky kids shopping at Target in Kalispell for their annual Shop with a Cop program.
The kids all meet at the police department and get to take a ride in the patrol car before shopping for themselves and their family members. Officer Mike Johnson says they make sure the kids have the necessary clothing to keep them warm for the winter before letting them do some fun shopping.
“We make sure they have warm clothes, to begin with. They get boots and coats and snow pants and things like that to start,” Johnson said. “Just to make that little extra special something for Christmas for the family who might not have the funds to be able to go out and buy a bunch of toys and things like that."
And the kids were definitely excited about their new toys.
“They’re so excited one little guy was running up and down the aisles with toys and screaming and yelling and having a good time and it’s just really nice to see the kids so happy,” Johnson told MTN News.
The department has been doing this program for over 15 years and Officer Johnson has been doing it since he got to the department, 11 years ago. He says he loves being able to get these kids presents but any help, in any form, can make a difference in someone else’s life.
“You don’t always have to give money. Even just seeing somebody on the side of the road and stopping to make sure they’re okay. Just the smallest things make a huge difference to people,” Johnson said.
He added that the department plans on keeping the tradition going next year.