BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — "Shop With A Cop" is an annual tradition for men and women in uniform to give back to children in the community who need a helping hand.
But this year, a Boynton Beach police officer is also getting the gift of friendship.
From flashing lights to flashing smiles, Boynton Beach police officers put on a show on Tuesday.
"Every year it’s special. Every year we come out here and we take the children into Walmart and we allow them to purchase whatever they want," said Officer Vinny Mastro.
For Mastro, this started out as a clear mission.
"They have a hundred dollars to spend on whatever they want," said Mastro.
Then he met 5-year-old Jonathan, and their bond was instant.
"We were talking about who in his family we were going to buy for, his two sisters, his two brothers. And I asked him about his mom and his dad. He told me that his dad was in heaven looking down on us and protecting us, and it just so happened I had lost my father as well when I was young," said Mastro. "So Jonathan and I went around and bought for everyone in the family, and as we were walking out, Jonathan looked at me and said, I have one more person to buy for. And I said, who’s that Jonathan? And he goes, my dad! And he told me that he wanted to buy."
"Flowers!" Jonathan said.
"So we went in and found the arts and crafts section, and we were able to pick out the perfect flowers for Jonathan’s dad," said Mastro.
Giving this little boy a gift more valuable than money can buy.
"I’m excited because I want to buy things for my dad and my family and my friends," said Jonathan.
Rebecca Nelson, a licensed mental health counselor with Therapeutic Oasis, said more people are reaching out for help to talk to their children about dealing with grief.
Nelson recommended creating a space for a shared grieving process so the child doesn’t feel alone.
For more resources for children who are dealing with the loss of a parent or loved one, click here.