NORFOLK, Va. - From a badge to a bunny suit, Norfolk sheriff's deputies are spreading a lot of "hoppiness."
Ahead of Easter Sunday, deputies stopped by My Joy Learning Center and handed out stuffed animals to children in each class.
"[Being part of this day] aligns with one of our missions, which is making a difference in peoples lives as far as we can reach," said Lt. Meryah Breeden with the Norfolk Sheriff's Office.
As Keshara McIntyre, the Director of My Joy Learning Center, walked around the classrooms, she said, "I can't express how important this is, especially during COVID right now."
Equally as important as the smile it brought to the kids is the relationship it's helping them build with law enforcement.
Lt. Breeden said, "Unfortunately, you know, there's not a real good relationship with law enforcement in the community, and when we can show up and show kids that law enforcement has another side to us, especially with the Easter Bunny, and kind of, you know, dance with them and laugh with them and joke with them and show them that we have a softer side, it's really fun and it's really exciting."
The stuffed animals and bunny costume were donated by the Easter Bunny Foundation out of Florida.
Lt. Breeden said she was just happy to see there were more smiles than tears.
"[Normally when the] Easter Bunny walks in, you typically see kids sprint and scream, but [Friday] morning they were excited and it was fun to see their faces light up."
McIntyre wanted to express her gratitude to the Norfolk Sheriff's Office and said, "I'm thanking them so much from the bottom of my heart, and I appreciate them for coming and supporting my kids at the My Joy."
Sheriff's Deputies also delivered presents to kids at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters (CHKD).