Children with Down syndrome shop with Rockford police officers

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Most children look forward to meeting Santa this time of year, but some lucky kids also got the chance to spend time with a Rockford police officer.

Nate Markley is crossing off everything on his Christmas list for his family.

"They will love it, and they'll be happy," says Markley.

The most important thing he'll walk away with is a new friend.

Thanks to Holidays and Heroes, Markley is one of 28 children with Down syndrome who were able to spend their afternoon with officers.

"It touches my heart, really, to invest back into our community in the most valuable resource we have in our community which is our children and our future," said Officer Shawn Ross.

Meijer gave the kids a chance to take home $100 in gifts as long as they stuck with their partners.

Officers say this is a great way to remind kids that the police are on their side.

"Hopefully it makes a very positive impact on them, so that in the future when they have any interactions with police officers, that they will see that in a positive way. So next year when I come here and I see Nate, we can go and have that bond that we formed here today," Ross said.

"All the police are helping the kids and they paid for the gifts for our parents," Markley said.

Meijer donated all of the gifts today. The children who participated are part of Gigi's Playhouse.