Eighteen Morris Grove Elementary School students will get help shopping for holiday gifts this year, thanks to the Carrboro Police Department and the Optimist Club of Chapel Hill.

For the third time since 2012, the Optimist Club picked a school to participate in the “Shop with a Cop” program. Students get paired up with Carrboro police officers to shop for gifts for family, friends, and themselves.

This year, the participating Morris Grove students were chosen by Angela Snider, the school’s social worker.

“It’s a way to pair students up with an officer, and they go to Wal-Mart together, and the officer’s kind of the student’s personal shopper, and helps them find the things on their list,” said Snider.

Officers get matched with their shopping partners at the school, and everybody rides the bus together, to the store and back.

To further sweeten the experience, each student goes into the store with a $75 gift card.

“The parents that I have contacted and spoken with are very excited about it and receptive,” said Snider, “and the kids are thrilled. They keep asking me when we’re going to go to Wal-Mart.”

Public Information Officer Captain Chris Atack of the Carrboro Police Department says he regrets that he’s not going to be able to participate this time, because he’ll be in training that day.

But he has fond memories of being paired up with a McDougle Middle School Student for the first one, back in 2012.

“Sometimes you’ll get questions about what you do as a police officer,” said Atack. “But for the most part, it’s just conversations about how their school year’s going; what they’re thinking about for the holidays; and what their favorite subjects are.”

Atack said it’s mostly about “just allowing kids to be kids, and in some sense, letting the cops be kids, too.”

The special shopping trip to the Hillsborough Wal-Mart takes place December 2nd.

The Optimist Club of Chapel Hill is a non-profit group dedicated to inspiring an optimistic outlook in kids, as well as patriotism and respect for the law.