‘Shop with a Cop’ program making holidays brighter for Connecticut kids in need

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MILFORD--Roughly 100 state troopers, local police officers and kids in need participated in the annual "Shop with a Cop" program at the Milford Target store on Tuesday evening. The event, funded by The REACH Foundation, allows kids to shop with police officers for holiday gifts.

Each child was given $100 to buy gifts for themselves and their families. In addition to state troopers, officers from New Haven, Hamden, Orange and Milford participated.

“This is gonna be the best day of my life,” said 11-year-old participant Gilberto Oyola. “Nothing else can top this.”

Gilberto and his 7-year-old brother Genesis bought presents for themselves and their parents.

“I got slippers,” said Genesis Oyola. “I got 'Mario Party 10.' I got a Wii controller.”

The event also gave officers a chance to give back during the holiday season.

“Today I think it was all about the holiday spirit,” said State Trooper Josue Borelus, who shopped with Gilberto and Genesis Oyola. “Giving back to the kids, giving back to the youth, giving back to the families, the communities we serve.”

"Shop with a Cop" events also allow kids to see police officers in a friendlier light.

“When we’re responding to certain situations, they don’t necessarily get to see us in that light because we have to be serious at all times,” said Trooper Borelus. “So for them to see us like this and see us as human beings, it was really wonderful.”

Tuesday night’s event marks the first of three "Shop with a Cop" events in Connecticut this year. A second event will take place on Thursday in Southington, followed by the last "Shop with a Cop" of the season in Manchester on Tuesday.