Members of area law enforcement, Maryville Public Safety, Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department, Northwest Missouri State University Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol, gathered at Wal-Mart December 17 to play Santa during the fifth annual Santa Cops event.

Maryville Public Safety Officer Matthew McMillen, Nodaway County Deputy Jon Black and Maryville Public Safety Officer Sean Gomez wait for the children to arrive for shopping.

This year saw record-breaking numbers with 50 children, 20 more than last year, shopping with approximately 25 cops. Each child was given $100 to spend on toys, clothing or food for themselves or siblings or anyone they chose to spend the money on.

The money is raised through various fundraisers throughout the year. One of the bigger events is the Santa Cops for Kids Putting for Presents golf tournament held at Mozingo Lake and Recreational Park. This year was the second year for the event and it is expected to grow larger next year.

The Gladys Rickard Trust donated $3,000 to the program and the local Elks Club wrote and received a grant for $2,500 which they donated to the event.

Children are selected for the holiday shopping by various mediums including word of mouth, social media and teachers and staff at local schools.

Next year, law enforcement officers are hoping to add a second shopping event called Christmas in July, where children can shop with cops for back-to-school supplies and clothing.

“We are trying to branch out and grow the program. It is our way of giving back,” Maryville Public Safety Officer and Maryville School Resource Officer Ian Myers said.