Preparations for a charitable program are under way at the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department.

The Kids and Cops Christmas Shop is getting ready to kick into high gear as Christmas approaches, and is seeking donors to help unfortunate children in Mineral County.

The Kids and Cops Christmas Shop is a program in which deputies take Mineral County children to the Wal Mart in Fallon to shop for Christmas gifts, and was started by Sammy Scarlata, Mineral County Sheriff’s deputy.

“We wanted to do something for the less fortunate kids in Hawthorne,” Scarlata said.

The program is run by the Mineral County Sheriff’s Deputies’ Association.

Scarlata said the association chooses a “select few” children each year, usually from the Mineral County Christmas Angel Tree, to take shopping. The largest group of children to take the trip was five, Scarlata said.

“We take kids that might not otherwise get a Christmas because of their family’s financial situation and we take them shopping with us, and we spend approximately $300 on each kid,” said deputy Natalie Hults, vice president of the Mineral County Sheriff’s Deputies’ Association.

On the day of the shopping spree, Dec. 21 this year, Scarlata said, Mineral County Deputies drive children to Fallon in their squad cars. Usually each child will be paired with their own deputy.

“[The kids] get to buy whatever they want,” Scarlata said. “Most of the kids, they purchase things for their families instead of themselves. It’s supposed to be just for them, really for Christmas.”

After shopping, the deputies and children have a pizza party together.

Scarlata said he came up with the idea for the program after he realized how much money was donated to the Mineral County Bikes from Badges program, a program in which the sheriff’s department buys new bikes for children, and thought more could be done for Mineral County youth.

“We were raising so much money through donations for the bike program, and […] a few years we were having money left over so I thought ‘Why don’t we do this?’” Scarlata said.

Hults, who organizes the shopping trip and, along with Scarlata, chooses the children, said positive experiences with law enforcement play a critical role in shaping children’s perception of officers.

“It shows the kids that cops aren’t always bad,” Hults said. “[…] We get to show them that there is a good side to us, and that we’re not always bad, and we don’t always take people to jail. That we’re people too and that we love to help the kids and do what we can for them.”