Yavapai-Apache Nation children recently had the opportunity to spend a day with a policeman while shopping for Christmas presents.
According to Sgt. Nathan Huibregtse of the Yavapai-Apache Nation police department, five children from the Nation were selected to participate in 'Shop with a cop.'
"It's a very rewarding detail where we take a child or family who would otherwise not be able to afford presents for Christmas or [who] has been through some recent tragedy, to be assigned an officer to take them [shopping] for the day," said Huibregtse.
That day will always be memorable for these youngsters, as they started with a breakfast with a policeman and then off to the Cottonwood airport where they waited for Santa to arrive on a helicopter.
As the morning progressed, the Nation's kids rode in the squad car from the airport to WalMart as the sirens blared away and the kids switched on the flashing lights and fiddled with the squad car's public address system.
Once inside the store, each child was given a set spending amount to buy gifts. Officer Huibregtse said that the children "more often than not become selfless and start[ed] purchasing gifts for their family rather than themselves."
Huibregtse said that this occasion seems most memorable to him.
"It is a special event that is near to my heart and I feel privileged to have been a part of it for the last eight years," he said.
After the shopping spree, Mingus Union High School cheerleaders wrapped the gifts to have everything ready when the children got home.
"The entire detail occurs on a voluntary basis so all of the officers and volunteers donate their time to be a part of this wonderful event," said Huibregtse.
The Nation's police department's participation included three sergeants, a detective and two officers.
(Don Decker is the editor of the Yavapai-Apache Nation's monthly newspaper, Gah'nahvah/Ya Ti')