SCRANTON, Pa. - We all know the gut-churning feeling of seeing flashing lights in the rearview mirror and having a police officer approach your car window.
From now until Christmas in Scranton, Pennsylvania, those blue and red lights may be a reason to celebrate, for some. Police officers will be handing out gifts instead of traffic tickets, according to WNEP-TV.
Scranton Patrolman Nick Hurchik, who was on foot with temperatures barely out of the teens, said he was on the lookout for the perfect driver to "pull over" – a family with children.
That person turned out to be Paulette Bobersky. "I thought my light was green," Bobersky laughed. "It was really good, especially ... having a child in the car. It's nice for him to know that police officers are good and they do good for us."
Officers are giving out gift certificates instead of tickets from a few pizza places in Scranton that took part in the police department's Secret Santa program.
The department's beat officers will hand out a few dozen certificates between now and Christmas.
Back at headquarters, the halls are filled with other gifts.
"The calls we get, we get them from grandparents, we get them from people trying to help their neighbors – they don't want their names mentioned," said Kathy Flynn, of the Scranton Police Department. "We never turn anybody down, to the last day that we can do it."
Kathy Flynn and Melissa McCafferty work in the chief's office and help to organize it all.
The officers raise the money to buy presents and winter coats for more than 200 kids in the city. They'll deliver it all before Scranton schools go on winter break.
"We have more children every year," said Flynn. "We try to be prepared, you know, every year, like last year we did 215. This year we're up to 20 more children (and) we don't stop until the last day we can give it to them. You know, we want them to have a nice Christmas too."