Midland Texas – Texas Parks and Wild Life State Game Warden Brooks Yates helps Ralph Gonzales, 8, pick out a toy car that will stay within their $100 budget Wednesday during the “Shop with a Cop” event at Target. Cindeka Nealy/Reporter-Telegram

Gabriel Perez stopped in front of the game display and reached first for a Ghostbusters game.  He found the Legos Star Wars trilogy and pulled it out, too.  Ruff, a Department of Public Safety pilot and lieutenant found a Transformers game and handed it to him as well.

“Let’s hold onto that and just see,” he told him.

Gabriel was one of the 41 children the Midland County Deputy Sheriff’s Association took shipping Wednesday as part of their fifth annual “Shop with a Cop” event.

“Our local organizations like Child Protective Services and the Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center provide the association with a list of children they identify as needing help for the holidays,” said Midland County Sheriff’s Sgt. Alan Thompson.

Forty-one children’s names were on the list this year – the most the program has ever had.  The association held a raffle for a 50-inch television with surround sound to raise the $4,100 need to provide a $100 gift card for each child.  Each child who was matched was allowed to buy as many gifts and toys for himself or herself or family as they could with their gift card.  Some made multiple trips to the price scanners and kept a running tally on a cell phone calculator to make sure they stayed within their budget.

Department of Public Safety pilot Matt Ruff, left, scans Gabriel Perez ,10, toy picks to see if they have met their $100 mark Wednesday during the “Shop with a Cop” event at Target. The Midland County Deputy Sheriffs Association raised $4,100 through their fundraising events to help make Christmas better for 41 children who were selected by Child Protective Services, Child Advocacy Center, and the Rape Crisis Center. Cindeka Nealy/Reporter-Telegram

Officer Matt Ruff said he participates in the event so he could take a child shopping and hopefully help them to have a good Christmas.

As community law enforcement, officers are to help and serve the community “and this is one way to get involved,” Ruff said as he smiled.  “And it’s kind of fun.”