Published: Dec 03, 2013 7:21 PM EST

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.- 30 kids in Charlotte County patrolled the Walmart aisles today for a special shopping spree, all part of the 'shop with a cop' program.

This is the 9th year Charlotte County deputies donated their time, and the community donated money, to make the event possible. Sheriff Bill Prummell says, "we want the children to know we're their friends. A lot of times people see the uniforms and they get scared, especially the little ones, they don't know what to think. So this is partnering with them and saying we're here for you, we're here to take care of you."

Students in second through fifth grade are selected by their schools based on certain criteria. The sheriff says it's an event his deputies and staff look forward to every holiday season. He says he loves seeing the kids shop for their families. "They're interested in what can I buy mom and dad. What can I get my sister, what can I get my brother- and that truly means something."

9-year-old Paul Ruccione was excited to shop with a deputy elf by his side. "I've been planning this shopping for a while because I wanted to get my family some stuff," he said.

The sheriff's office will hold 'shop with a cop' at three other Charlotte County Walmart locations later this month, with 30 students shopping at each store. Each child receives a $100 gift card to buy whatever he or she chooses. The kids also get to take pictures with Santa, and volunteers are on hand to wrap the gifts for them.

The sheriff's office is always looking for donations to help make the program possible.