People driving past Meijer in Royal Oak on Tuesday night catching a glimpse of multiple police cars lining the front of the building were most likely under the impression that something went terribly wrong.
That wasn't the case.
Instead, dozens of service men and women, along with 33 children, flooded Meijer to participate in the annual Shop With a Hero program. Among the participating agencies were the Royal Oak Police Department, Royal Oak Fire Department, Berkley Public Safety Department, Clawson Police Department and Hazel Park Police Department.
Royal Oak Middle School student Max Strauch, 13, went shopping with Officer K. Corradi of Berkley. His mom, Christina Goodwin, is a cancer survivor.
"We have gone through a rough patch this year," Goodwin said. "The school called and asked if we would be interested in this. It's overwhelming. I was in tears."
Meijer contributed $100 gift cards and a free meal to each child participating in the event. Additional items were donated by Meijer and its vendors to ensure each family left with a basket filled with food.
Santa also dropped by, much to the delight of squealing girls who jumped up and down shouting, "It's the real Santa! It's the real Santa!"
Each "hero" was matched with one to three children. The children were able to shop for whatever they like alongside their heroes.
Max was spotted with a small kitchen appliance in his cart. Other young boys were seen shopping with cops for Barbies and Hello Kitty toys to give to little sisters.
"The gift card is intended for the children, but most of them are more excited to pick out gifts for family members than for themselves," said Sue Kaczkowski, a secretary at Oakland Elementary.
Kaczkowski, along with other volunteers, wrapped items for the children when they finished shopping.
"It's just wonderful," Kaczkowski said. "The kids are very excited."