SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Fifty children selected from the Salt Lake School District spent their Saturday with Santa and shopping for Christmas presents, courtesy of the Salt Lake City Police Department’s Pay-it-Forward program.

The children were paired with a police officer and participated in breakfast at The Little America Hotel and a ride downtown in a police car with lights and sirens. They received a backpack stocked with school supplies, a visit from Santa who landed from a helicopter, and a trip to Target to shop for their Christmas presents.

“For some children, they spend hours, days or even weeks making their holiday wish list. But for some, those wishes may not come true and that’s where our Pay-it-Forward program steps in,” said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown. 

The event was made possible through community donations to the Salt Lake City Police Foundation along with support and donations by many organizations including the Salt lake City Police Mutual Aid Association, Marathon Petroleum Company, Salt lake City School District, Essendant, AirLife Utah, and Target.

“This is what community engagement is all about – coming together, building trust, strengthening relationships, and most importantly – having fun,” Brown said.

Officers participated from the SLPD, Utah Transit Authority Police Department, University of Utah Police Department, and the U.S. Federal Reserve Police.

“I know these officers have really enjoyed their time here with the kids and being able to connect with the community and just spend that time with them, especially around the holidays and just be able to build that relationship with the police department,” said Detective DorthyRose Hadlock.