Heroes and Helpers at Target

Police cadet Magdalena Bautista takes a group to the toy aisles as part of the annual "Heroes and Helpers" event put on by Burbank Police officers, Explorers, cadets and volunteers along with the Burbank Noon Rotary club at theTarget in the Empire Center on Thursday, December 19, 2013. The kids were given gift cards and went through the store picking gifts for family members. (Photo by Ross A. Benson / December 24, 2013)

Burbank police went shopping with dozens of underprivileged children recently as part of the annual “Heroes and Helpers” program.

Roughly 30 elementary- and middle-school-aged children were joined by their shopping buddies, which included Burbank police officers, cadets and Explorers, for an afternoon of holiday gift shopping at the Target store in the Empire Center.

The Boys and Girls Club of Burbank selected the children to participate in the program, while Target and the Burbank Noon Rotary Club collectively donated $3,000 for the event. Each child had $100 to spend on gifts.

PHOTO GALLERY: Annual heroes and Helpers Event

“It’s not just a positive experience for the kids, it’s also a positive experience for the officers — it gives us an opportunity to see the excitement and joy in the kids,” said Burbank Police Officer Joshua Kendrick, who helped organize the event.

Many of the children, he added, had to be encouraged to buy gifts for themselves after spending most of their gift money on presents for family members.

“These kids are very, very unselfish in how they look to get gifts for other people instead of themselves,” Kendrick said. “It’s priceless.”

After the shopping spree, the group headed over to the police station for dinner, which was provided by Ciao Cristina restaurant.

“They get to see police officers in a different light. We get to talk a little about their family, their presents, what they bought and what they’re going to do (for the holidays),” Kendrick said.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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