SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A simple stuffed animal can make all the difference in a child’s life, especially this time of year. That is why members of the Sevierville Police Department are once again trading in their badges to become Santa’s helpers.

The program is called Shop with a Cop. Its purpose is to give children from low-income families a chance to have a memorable holiday season.

“Shop with a Cop allows us to reach out to the children who are in need in the community, and it allows us to provide gifts to kids who may not have been able to purchase gifts due to financial constraints,” said Sgt. Caleb Brien of the Sevierville Police Department.

This month 15 children from the Sevierville area took part in this year’s event that included breakfast at Chick-fil-A followed by shopping stops at Walmart and Tanger Five Oaks. The outing not only puts smiles on everyone involved but also begins the process of building a lasting friendship with those in blue.

“These moments allow us to reach these children at a young age and build a positive relationship with law enforcement,” Sgt. Brien said. “To show them that it’s not just an officer, it’s a person.”

It’s that effort of bridging gaps that appears to be paying off.

“It’s really fun! I like talking to them,” said Toni, an area sixth-grader who took part in Shop with a Cop. “I’m excited to hang out and shop with the cops because I think it might be fun!”

And at the end of the day, that’s the goal, having fun and celebrating some Christmas cheer.