'I will never forget it,' says teen after police play Santa for Calgary kids
25 teens get $200 gift card from Marlborough Mall
Around two dozen Calgary teenagers were given some Christmas cheer ahead of the holidays — as they were escorted on a shopping trip by Calgary police officers on Wednesday — allowing both groups to bond.
On Wednesday morning, 25 Grade 9 students were paired up with an officer, who took them around Marlborough Mall with a $200 gift card donated by the shopping centre.
"I've never had an event like this. I feel very happy. I get to buy my parents gifts [and] myself too," said Roberto Barrera.
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Barrera bought a necklace for his mom, an action figure for his dad, and toys for his two younger sisters.
He got himself a journal because he said he has always wanted to write.
"I've enjoyed this day so much, I will never forget it."
CPS Acting Supt. Leah Barber said the annual CopShop event has gained popularity over the past 11 years, especially amongst the officers.
"It gives us something more heartfelt as a service … it's a nice change for us, instead of always dealing with victims of crime."
Over the years, she's seen relationships forged and strengthened between the youth in Calgary's eastern neighbourhoods and the officers who come from numerous districts.
Marlborough Mall's marketing director Kim Wiltse says the event began in Halifax at a partner shopping centre.
She said the teenagers are initially hesitant, but at the end of the event, many will joke around with their officer.
"We thought it would break down some barriers — and it has."
The program is expected to return next year.