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Petersburg officers pay Christmas gift back into the community

Petersburg officers pay Christmas gift back into the community
Posted at 5:33 PM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 17:33:56-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Christmas came early for more than a dozen children in Petersburg on Thursday morning.

The holiday season is a magical time of the year, especially for children.

Thursday's Shop With A Cop event paired 14 families with a Petersburg Police Officer.

"I think it was great, I think it was awesome. Maurice is a student at the school that's in my patrol, so I've gotten to see him at school a few times before and being able to interact like this is priceless," Petersburg officer Stephen Page said.

While the Walmart shopping spree put smiles on the faces of kids, it also brought a sense of relief to parents.

"I'm so grateful and thankful for the police department in Petersburg because I never would have expected or thought that this could happen," Tierra Flowers, a mother, said.

For those officers participating, they say the event is part of their job they see as important as fighting crime.

"This is what we're here for, stuff like this, kids need Christmas, need to be safe but kids need to be kids," Officer Page said.

"It absolutely is what we're supposed to be doing, this is a community thing and our department is about serving our community," Chief Travis Christian with the Petersburg Police said.

But in the midst of the event came a surprise for the officers.

"I seen you guys doing everything for the kids so I figured it'd be a nice gesture to give back to the police for everything that you guys do," Marcus O'Neill said.

O'Neill presented the officers with $50 gift cards to thank them for their service. However, the officers made the decision to put those gifts back in the community.

"A citizen did it for us and we want to pay it forward to you. I appreciate that," Petersburg Police Deputy Chief Emmanuel Chambliss said.

Two of those who received gift cards from the police said they would turn around and give them to someone they knew who could use them more.