PALM BAY, Fla. — Dozens of Palm Bay Police officers and employees with the assistance from the Palm Bay Fire-Rescue Department answered a different call for service early Thursday morning when they escort nearly 100 children through the aisles of a Palm Bay Wal-Mart for a unique Christmas shopping experience dubbed ‘Operation Reindeer Run.’
The event began with breakfast provided by Golden Corral followed by the arrival of some “special guests” including Santa and some of his friends.
Following breakfast, police officers and department employees escorted the children through Wal-Mart as they each had a $100 gift card to purchase anything on their Christmas wish list.
The children were selected through a partnership with local Palm Bay schools and were identified as being most worthy of the program. The funding for the Reindeer Run is through use of the Law Enforcement Trust Fund which is money acquired through the forfeited assets of criminals.
Florida State law requires a percentage of those funds be used for community programs such as the ‘Reindeer Run.’
“It’s all about making a positive difference in the lives of as many children as possible,” said Chief Doug Muldoon. “It is extremely rewarding for us when we see the smiles on their faces.”
The Reindeer Run began at 8 a.m. at the Palm Bay Road Wal-Mart. The Palm Bay Fire-Rescue Department escorted Santa and Mrs. Claus on one of its engines and other special characters arrived to help.