CHICAGO (WLS) -- Christmas came early for more than 100 children.
Many of the children live in temporary housing or come from families facing challenging circumstances. On Thursday, they chose their own gifts as they shopped with a cop.
The 12th Annual Izzy's Shop with a Cop Day brought plenty of smiles, making Chicago proud. The event is hosted by former Chicago Bears player Israel Idonije.
The day started with bowling and striking up new friendships.
"It gives me an opportunity to establish a friendship and it give him an opportunity to get to know a cop," said Matthew Jackson, a Chicago police officer.
Idonije is the driving force behind the effort to get kids in the community and cops together.
"We wanted to do something that would allow these kids to have an experience with these police officers in our community themselves and start to build relationships first hand," Idonije said.
After having pizza for lunch, the group headed over to Target. That's where the kids were paired up with a Chicago police officer to holiday shop.
About two dozen cops helped out, many for the first time.
"It gives them a different outlook on the police to let them know we are here to help them and show a positive way of life," said officer Tamar McGee.
"At first I thought they were kind of good, but now I think they are awesome," said Raphael Robeson Jr.
Each child got a $100 gift card to spend on presents for themselves and their family. The only condition was that they buy a book to read.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the gifts of trust and acceptance were given, too.
"This just goes to illustrate how the police are a part of the community and this goes a long way toward building that relationship back up," said Johnson.
Chicago Proud: Israel Idonije's Shop with a Cop spreads holiday cheer to more than 100 children
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