Kids in need 'Shop with a Hero' at Meijer in Birch Run

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BIRCH RUN (WJRT) - (12/06/16) - Poverty is something no child should ever have to deal with, especially around the holidays.

But for the past 17 year Meijer has been helping law enforcement in Saginaw County ease that burden just a little bit with their Shop with a Hero event.

Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics from departments all over Saginaw County were at the Meijer in Birch Run Tuesday night. They met up with 25 underprivileged kids from the area to shop for gifts.

“I think I’m gonna get this,” said Liam Popham, pointing to a football in the toy aisle.

He and the other kids received a $100 Meijer gift card to spend on whatever they want for Christmas with a hero by their side.

"Shopkins!" said Kali Marr, holding up a coloring book.

It's a 17-year tradition for heroes from all over Saginaw County.

"Oh it's great, I wouldn't miss this for the world, it’s something else,” said Chief Bob Bowns with the Taymouth Township Fire Department.

It’s not just to brighten the holidays but to also promote a positive relationship between kids and the heroes.

"This is a chance for us to be in a setting where it's not adversarial. We're not there fighting a fire at their house, we're not there because someone is sick or injured or someone's being arrested or there's fighting. We're there at a happy time,” said Chief Al Swearengin with the Birch Run Police Department.

Shopping carts were also filled with food for kids' families - the makings of a holiday meal.

Going down the aisles with their heroes - little boys and girls using the hundred dollar gift cards for their families too.

"I want to buy something for my brother. Because he likes Elmo. And I saw this flexible doll on TV so I wanted to get one of those to really flex it,” said one little girl.

"I got my sister Frozen,” said Kenneth Dingler.

It’s a reminder that not every child gets a huge Christmas.

"It feels really awesome that I get to do this because usually my mom and dad won't let me pick out this much stuff because...cause they don't have enough money,” said Liam Popham.

But these heroes are making sure this year shines a little brighter.

A 'Shop with a Hero' event was held in Burton Tuesday night too.