Thirty young shoppers wound their way through the aisles in Target at the Empire Center last Wednesday night, filling carts with an eclectic range of items, from sweaters and lamps to furry jumpsuits and buckets of slime.
The children were there as part of the Burbank Police Department’s annual “Heroes and Helpers” event, which paired up the youths with an officer to go on a holiday shopping spree with a $200 store gift card.
Angela Burrows, an officer with the department’s community resource bureau and the event’s organizer, said the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley chose each child based on the financial needs of their family.
It was Lovie Sutton’s fifth year participating in the event and she came prepared with a list. Her cart was filled with items for family and friends, like a shirt for her mom, cookies for her dad and a onesie for a Secret Santa gift.
She also said the event has been a great way to have face-to-face interactions with police officers in a positive setting. Before her participation, Sutton found police officers “scary and intimidating,” she said.
“It’s really important to talk to cops and realize they’re not all bad,” Sutton said. “It’s great to see the people who protect us every day.”
Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse praised the community support that makes the “Heroes and Helpers” event possible year after year.
In addition to the gift cards from Target, the Hilton Garden Inn provided a post-shopping holiday meal, followed by desserts donated by Porto’s. The youths and their families were also provided with gift and food baskets donated by the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, the Burbank Town Center and local resident Lisa Komorowski.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the community support,” LaChasse said. “The service clubs, the companies … giving with their hearts and giving financially, it is good stuff.”