Walk into a Target store during the holidays and you may see a joyful sight: kids hand-in-hand with heroes from their local law enforcement, shopping for holiday gifts for themselves and their families.

Events like these take place at Target stores in more than 200 communities across the country in November and December through our Heroes & Helpers program. Part of our Target & BLUE effort, the events pair public safety officers with in-need youth for a day of holiday shopping, and a chance to form strong relationships in the process. Local law enforcement selects kids and families to participate, and the kids receive donated funds from Target and other local organizations, businesses and individuals to help them get gifts and other items they need.

For the past several years, Target and local public safety organizations across the country have held events similar to Heroes & Helpers in communities, bringing kids and families holiday cheer and forming lasting connections with law enforcement. This year, Target donated approximately $200,000 to public safety organizations especially for the events. The program is just one way our teams help local heroes support their communities.

One of our largest Heroes & Helpers events of 2012 took place on Dec. 8 at one of our stores in St. Paul, Minn. More than 200 kids took part in the event, each with their special shopping buddy—a police officer or other law enforcement official from the St. Paul area—in tow.

After kids made a quick stop to hug and high-five Target’s beloved mascot, Bullseye, the men and women in uniform led their buddies throughout the store, helping them track down gifts on their lists. Then, the groups dashed across the street to the St. Paul Police Department for refreshments and special gift-wrapping service, courtesy of team member volunteers.

“From start to finish, team members play a big role in making the Heroes & Helpers events happen,” says Adam Vircks, executive team leader, Assets Protection at the St. Paul store. “We’ve been working on ours since September, when we first met with the St. Paul Police Department and our partner, the Summit University Planning Council, to figure out how many volunteers we’d need, how many GiftCards, how much food … and then the teams went to work to get everything ready. And, of course, they provide the amazing service to the shoppers during the event and afterward at the gift-wrapping party.”

Special guests St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith and Mayor Chris Coleman were also on hand to celebrate. “It’s so important for kids to have positive interactions like these with their local law enforcement,” says Coleman. “It sets them up to have a trusting relationship with public safety officers as adults.”

To learn more about Target’s law enforcement partnerships and programs, visit Community Safety.

TAGS: stores , events , partnerships , community support , corporate responsibility , safety & preparedness , team members , volunteerism , company values

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