The wide eyes and smiles of Christmas morning came early for some twenty Mentor-on-the-Lake children, almost a week early.
Thanks to the city's police department and generous donors, the children and their families were treated to a pizza dinner, raffle prizes, a $100 shopping trip to Walmart and a visit from Santa.
In its second year, the 'Santa's Blue Helper's' event was organized by patrol officer Tina DeSapri. Donations nearly double meaning nine more children than last year were able to take part.
"Being able to bring these kids in and give them a little bit of a brighter Christmas means the world," DeSapri said. "Just seeing their smiles and excitement, it's awesome."
Gabby Dettrey beamed as she scampered from aisle to aisle of the Mentor Walmart on Mentor Avenue.
DeSapri said some of the children use their shopping trip to buy gifts for other members of their families.
"It's really rewarding because you see the goodness in these kids' hearts."
The kids were treated to a lights-and-sirens ride in police cars to Walmart.
The department raised money through their 'Fill the Cruiser' event in December and from Spuddy's Tavern, Giant Eagle, AMVETS and Deepwood Run.