Eighteen Leesburg kids were treated to dinner, a fresh milkshake, and a $250 shopping spree Thursday night thanks to the Leesburg Police Department and community donors.
The annual Holidays with the Cops program kicked off with a meal at the Leesburg Diner provided by owner Michael O’Connor, and then a trip to Target where members of the Police Department helped them shop for gifts for themselves or family members.
“Tonight, it is all about you guys. You’re going to have fun. Joke with the police officers who are here. Anyone who is in this room with you guys, they are here for you,” said Detective Damian Moreau, the co-organizer of the event along with Officer Josh Carter.
Moreau said the program is supported by donations and an annual silent auction fundraiser at Bear Chase Brewing Company, held in July. The participants are nominated by community members.
A self-described Christmas freak, Moreau said it is hard to put the meaning of the event into words.
“It is extremely humbling. It’s all volunteer, nobody’s getting paid to be here. Just seeing the kid’s faces light up,” he said. “It is humbling to hear a kid say, ‘hey, can I buy my dad a set of tools?’ They’re not focused on themselves, like you see some kids around here. They’re concerned about their family, and they want to take care of their whole family,” he said.
Officers get a lot from the program as well, Moreau said.
“It’s the experience. Watching the kids smile, the joy on their faces is payment enough. This is what I look forward to every single year,” he said. “It is just happiness, to be honest with you.”