After Lexington police officer Jordan Truett helped 10-year-old Sky Gilbert load a shopping cart with winter wear, she picked out a red dress with lace and a ribbon sash.
“I’m going to wear it on Christmas Day,” said Sky, who also chose shoes, a hat, boots and two dolls at the Shop with a Hero event Saturday at Meijer on Reynolds Road.
Sky shopped for Christmas with her twin sister, Summer, and their siblings, an 11-year-old, a 7-year-old and another set of twins who are 5. All six live with their great-grandmother, said Judy Bruggeman, their great-aunt.
Meijer hosted about 200 children in need Saturday who were paired with law enforcement officers to shop for holiday gifts for themselves and their families. Each child received $150 in Meijer gift cards.
“This will really help,” Bruggeman said.
Truett said Sky and Summer chose only a few toys, and “everything else is clothes that they need.”
Lexington police Officer Calvin Mattox said before children chose toys, they stocked up on essentials such as coats, hats, gloves, underwear and socks.
Mattox shopped with Janiyah Jones, 7. Once Janiyah had the basics in her cart, she picked out baby doll accessories and a Minnie Mouse toy before stopping to look at Shopkins items.
Corea Mills brought four children to the event. Officer Brandon Muravchick walked with them as they picked out their holiday presents. Muravchick said he benefited from “the opportunity to see their face and how excited they are. It’s a good feeling to be able to give back to the community.”
Mills said the children got Hot Wheels, Barbies, robots and “plenty of clothes.”
She said her son wants to be a police officer one day.
“For him to be walking hand-in-hand with a police officer is lighting his world,” she said.
Something else that made the child “ecstatic,” Mills said, was a new bike.
In addition to the $150 that each child received through the Shop with a Hero event, the Bluegrass Cycling Club donated $3,500, which bought 28 bicycles and 28 helmets, said Rowena Ruff, chairperson of the Club’s philanthropy committee. “We have several policemen who ride with our club.”
“We want to get as many kids on bicycles as we can,” said Ed Jennings, vice president of the club.
There was another plus to Shop with a Hero, Truett said: Police officers get to interact with kids “in a non-law enforcement way.”
If they meet later in the community, he said, “They know that we are approachable if they need us.”