Local law enforcement agencies are coming together for an annual event designed to help make the holidays a happier time for local children in need.
Santa Cops, held every December, offers underprivileged children a chance to go Christmas shopping with a local law enforcement officer.
This year Santa Cops will be held on Dec. 11 and 12 at Target, 2910 First Ave. S.
Capt. Mike Buske, of the Fort Dodge Police Department, said Santa Cops has been around since 2000.
"We take children from the grade schools that are selected by their teachers," he said. "These children are ones who are in need of help as far as clothing and items like that. We take them shopping for two nights and spend $100 on each one of them."
Buske said participating agencies include the Fort Dodge Police Department, Webster County Sheriff's Department, Iowa State Patrol and the Fort Dodge/Webster County reserves.
There's usually about 100 children that are selected for Santa Cops, according to Buske.
"Right now we have around 84 children," he said. "That's about our average."
Children who participate in Santa Cops not only buy gifts for themselves, but family members as well.
While law enforcement goes shopping with the kids, Buske said the money for Santa Cops comes from community donations.
"The number of children that get selected depends on the amount of money we get from the public," he said.
Anyone is welcome to send money to Santa Cops, he said.
"There's no deadline for the money," he said. "If we get the money after our shopping days, we'll just put it toward next year's program."
Anyone who wants to donate to Santa Cops is asked to send a check to the Webster County Law Enforcement Center, 702 First Ave. S. Buske said the letter should be addressed to Santa Cops.
The annual event gives local children the chance to see officers in a different environment.
"It helps the children get better acquainted with law enforcement," Buske said. "They learn not to be afraid of them, and we hope they know that we are somebody they can go to, not stay away from."