Law enforcement officers from around the area are planning a major operation at the Calallen Wal-Mart Supercenter in December - an operation intended to help needy children.

On Dec. 9, officers will take part in the annual Shop with a Cop program, which provides items for children in need.

Tara Mylett, a spokesperson for the Shop with a Cop, said the program targets children between the ages of seven and 12 years old who have "fallen through the cracks."

Selected children could come from a family that just recently fell upon financial hard times, has experienced a death or divorce, or other unexpected situations. Mylett said children who are going through those experiences often encounter law enforcement personnel during a negative time in their lives, and the program is a way to give the children an opportunity to have a positive experience.

"This gives the youth an opportunity to see that the officers care about them and really want to help them," Mylett said. "This way they know these are people who care about the community."

The program collects financial donations, and then officers volunteer to take children shopping at local stores. The children are encouraged to fill basic needs, such as clothing, and when those needs are met they move on to buying fun items such as toys or electronics.

Mylett said the children often use money left over after buying necessities to purchase presents for siblings, parents or grandparents.

This year, approximately 70 children from Robstown, Calallen and Tuloso-Midway have been selected. More than 200 children from around the Coastal Bend will take part in the program during the month of December, Mylett said.

While all the children have been selected, Mylett said the program is still $8,000 short of its goal. The program hopes to provide at least $100 per child, but Mylett said if more money is not raised the organization will be forced to reduce the amount each child can spend.

"Nowadays, $100 goes pretty quick," Mylett said. "We don't carry money year to year, because we want to make sure every penny is spent on the kids."

The Shop with a Cop program is asking for additional donations from the community, and for law enforcement officers who would like to volunteer to be a "shopping buddy" for a child.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Tara Mylett by telephone at (361) 442-4787 or by email at shopwithacop@fop.net. Donations in any amount may be mailed directly to Shop with a Cop at P.O. Box 440 Corpus Christi, Texas 78403.