BRANSON WEST, Mo. — Christmas came early for kids living in the Branson West area. Local law enforcement officials played the role of Santa as children picked out presents to place under the tree.
“You get to have a fun time with people in the Army, and heroes that save your life everyday,” said Connor from Blue Eye Elementary.
Kids were matched with a hero, then took to the aisles to carefully select the perfect Christmas gift.
“It’s really important for the law enforcement community to have a close relationship with children at an impressionable age, and give them a good, positive, healthy experience to make sure in the future if they’re ever in distress, that they will come to us,” said Branson West Police Officer Robert Bridges.
Ozark Mountain Country Love, Inc. organizes the program for children who might not otherwise experience the Christmas of their dreams.
“I feel that I have a servant’s heart, and I enjoy serving my community in more ways than just going out and doing enforcement,” said State Trooper Terry Bible.
Love, Inc. accepts applications for the shopping spree in the fall, before wrangling up officers eager to share a piece of their heart for the holidays
“I really enjoy helping my community and doing things that’s of a positive nature, which a lot of times it’s not,” said Officer Bridges.
“It was really fun,” said Connor. “Amazing,” added his sister. “I love being here.”
There will be two more Shop with a Hero events for children living in Branson, however applications are closed.
Love Inc. is always looking for volunteers to help coordinate holiday assistance programs. The organization also placed dozens of Toys for Tots drop-off locations across the community, a complete list can be found at omcloveinc.org.