Sheriff’s Secret Santa: Christmas shopping with students

RAPID CITY, S.D. – For the third year in a row Kohl’s hosted Sheriff’s Secret Santa.

Pennington County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Nichole Gust Photography to grant Christmas wishes for kids in the Douglas School District.

Each year around the holiday season, local photographer Nichole Gust raises money to fund Christmas shopping for kids.

“I raise all the funds by taking pictures of kids with Santa,” said Gust.

For the big day, kids get paired up with a law enforcement officer who helps them pick out gifts for their siblings and for themselves. The officers are also there to help them try on shoes, properly size for clothing, and just be there for moral support.

“My favorite part is just getting to see the smile on the kids’ faces and see them get to light up and pick out gifts for their family,” said Victor Gust, a deputy sheriff and school resource officer.

Deputy Sheriff Gust was part of creating the event three years ago with Nichole.

Each family gets a budget and the budget varies depending on how many children are in the family. Along with shopping, the kids are sent home with a bag of food and basic necessities.

“I brought a lot of socks this year, coats, boots that kind of thing where I had the sizes ahead of time” said Nichole Gust, “I brought those so that way they don’t have to use their shopping funds for those needs. They can hopefully get some wants instead of just needs.”

The kids are bused to Kohl’s from Douglas High School and are brought back after they are done shopping. When they arrive back at school, they get to wrap gifts, eat lunch and play games.

This year Gust raised around $3,000 for the cause and Black Hills Badges for Hope donated an additional $500.

On Sunday, they brought Christmas cheer to 14 families in the school district.

“It has just been a great event and fun to see it grown and continue to hopefully grow in the future,” said deputy sheriff Gust.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News