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St. Joseph police officer Doug Howard, left, helps Christopher Rathmann,5, pick out some toys for Christmas. Christopher shopped for toys with Officer Howard on Monday evening at the South Belt Wal-Mart Supercenter in St. Joseph as part of the 10th annual Shop with a Cop program put on by the Fraternal Order of Police.

Local officers are asking for monetary donations to provide Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the area later this month.

Mike Hardin, president of St. Joseph’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3, said during the Shop with a Cop program each officer will chaperone a child at the South Belt Wal-Mart during a $100 shopping spree.

“The feeling is unbelievable to give a kid some Christmas, especially if they are picking out toys and things like that,” Hardin said. “It just fills our hearts with joy.”

He said school faculty in Northwest Missouri recommend students who might benefit from the program. He also said six St. Joseph schools and a county school in Rushville, Missouri, are participating. They also will shop with children in Cameron and Rock Port, Missouri.

“Many times, we come across kids who tell us they wouldn’t have a Christmas and the parents tell us they didn’t have the means to buy Christmas this year,” Hardin said.

On Monday, St. Joseph American Family Insurance employees donated $3,000 and presented a check. Hardin said this is the sixth year the employees donated money, which they raised through a bake sale this fall.

The Fraternal Order of Police plans to take at least 35 children with its $3,500 budget. Donations can be mailed to the Fraternal Order of Police at 3005 Pear, St. Joseph, MO 64503.

Eppie Pallangyo can be reached at eppie.pallangyo@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPPallangyo.