It was the department's first-ever "Shop With a Cop" holiday event, intended to provide local students with a positive mentoring experience with police, Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley explained in a press release.
The eight students live in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Redwood City, but attend school in Atherton. They were chosen by their teachers at Las Lomitas, Encinal, and Laurel elementary schools based on need as well as on good academic performance and attendance.
Each child had 30 minutes to spend $200 shopping with police officers before wrapping their gifts. The Police Activities League and the Atherton Police Officers Association provided the funding for the excursion.
"We are very excited about this program and plan to make it an annual tradition," McCulley said.
Veronica Zuleta's son Ryan, a third-grader at Las Lomitas, was one of the students chosen to participate. She accompanied him to the event.
"I'm so excited to buy the things I've always wanted... ," Ryan said. On his shopping list? Video games and a plush toy of the Nintendo video games character Yoshi. Ryan and the other children hopped in Atherton police cars for photos before embarking on their shopping sprees.
Atherton police also host a holiday toy drive every year for Selby Lane School in Atherton. Police delivered toys to Selby Lane students last week.
Police are planning a "Shop With a Cop" event to help students and families in need buy school supplies, clothes and shoes at the beginning of the school year in August.