Students have a brighter holiday thanks to Operation Rudolph - KCTV5

Students have a brighter holiday thanks to Operation Rudolph

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OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

It's going to be a brighter holiday for some Overland Park students thanks in part to a group of police officers.

Friday was a dreary day, but for 22 sixth grade students in the Shawnee Mission School District nothing could dampen their spirits.

"I was really excited because I never did this before and all my friends are going to be jealous," Nasir Muhammad said.

Nasir from Comanche Elementary was one of the students chosen to participate in Operation Rudolph, a partnership between the Overland Park Police Department and FOP Lodge 21, the Target on Blue Valley Parkway and the NAACP.

"We've got a lot of needs and you wouldn't think so in our county, but we have great needs, especially in the north end of the city," said Capt. Rick Castillo.

Each student was given a $195 gift card and let loose to shop for themselves and their families.

"I'm most excited to shop for myself, but I'm also excited to buy for my family and my sisters too," Nasir said. "My mom and one of my sisters already told me what they wanted."

It's the second year for Operation Rudolph, but last year officers didn't take the kids shopping. Instead they were given gift baskets. This year the kids got a great afternoon with presents for everyone and they were sent home with a basket of food for the holiday.

The principals at the schools worked with teachers and staff to find students like Nasir they believe would benefit the most.

"What we really base it on is the school's participation in the federal program, the free and reduced lunch and the seven schools that we picked have a very high participation rate in that program," Castillo said.

Next year organizers hope to expand the event and have even more children shopping and participating.

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