The aisles at Target were full of police officers Thursday evening, but they were not there looking for a suspect. Members of the Watertown and Boston police departments helped youngsters pick out some gifts during the Heroes and Helpers event sponsored by the store.
The program has been going on for several years, said Valerie Guite, executive team leader of asset protection the Target at the Watertown Mall.
“This is the fifth year and it is the biggest year yet,” Guite said. “A total of 40 Watertown children and 20 from Boston got a $50 gift card to shop with police.”
The children from Watertown are members of the Watertown Boys and Girls Club. Kristina Norris, director of Marketing and Special Events at the Watertown Clubhouse, said the children ranged in age from 7 to 14.
“This year they got more money and said can you get 40 kids. We said no problem,” Norris said. “The kids showed good behavior and could use some extra help.”
Roaming the store, many of the children headed right for the gaming section.
“Do we have PlayStation or Xbox?” Officer Tony Physic asked the two boys he was shopping with.
Det. John Bartolomucci’s young shoppers were fans of sports games.
“Both of you want NBA – what about hockey?” Bartolomucci said.
Officer Ken Swift headed over to the section with action figures from movie. While he said he son likes Star Wars, his young companion on Thursday preferred Transformers.
Even Watertown Police Chief Michael Lawn helped out. He watched as a boy and a girl perused the toy shelves at Target. Some worried that the items they wanted would go over the limit.
“Don’t worry if it goes over $50,” Lawn said. “I got you covered.”
About 15 officers from the WPD came to help out Thursday, Lawn said.
“They all volunteer their time to come down,” Lawn said. “It’s a real nice thing to do before Christmas. The more we do it the more officers want to get involved.”
Before picking out gifts, the children enjoyed some pizza and each child also received a bag with activities such as coloring books, note pads, stickers and healthy snacks, Guite said.