Eleven-year-old Cameron Black was excited to go Christmas shopping for toys during the 7th Annual Blue Santa event, but it was his grandfather, Mike Black, who seemed to have a more emotional reaction after the event began.
The sight of watching law enforcement officers walk side by side with children, pushing shopping carts and often smiling while patiently assisting them brought tears to Mike's eyes.
"They are teaching love and gift giving in this outing," Mike said. "It's miraculous what they do for these kids for Christmas."
The event was held by the Fraternal Order of Police, which once again partnered with law enforcement officers from all over East Texas to take children who were underprivileged or have been victims of crime shopping at a local Wal-Mart for Christmas gifts.
Through donations, the Fraternal Order of Police raised about $7,000 and took more than 75 children shopping.
"These are children that officers come across in the year that probably wouldn't have a good Christmas without their assistance," said Chuck Boyce, president of the East Texas Regional Fraternal Order of Police and officer with the Tyler Police Department. "The officers are having more fun than the kids."
At the event, each child was paired with a law enforcement officer, and officers could be seen lifting toys off of shelves and helping each child find their desired item. Santa Claus even came to the event dressed in a blue and white suit, gleefully taking photographs with the children.
Cameron said he enjoyed spending time shopping with Jason Cofer, a mental health peace officer with the Smith County Sheriff's Office, and was ecstatic about picking out several toys, including a car from the "Fast and the Furious" film franchise.
Cheryl Vega said her one-year-old niece, Aliyanna Vega, had a good time shopping with Texas State Park Officer Josh Raines.
Together the group shopped for clothes and a toy for Aliyanna, and Cheryl said she was very appreciative that her niece was able have a great Christmas because of the event.
Raines said just seeing Aliyanna smile was a reward in itself.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "She smiled a couple of times."