A Massachusetts police officer called out to arrest a shoplifting family bought them groceries for Christmas dinner instead.
Officer Matt Lima used his own money to give a struggling family US$250 (NZ$350) in food vouchers, a police statement said.
Five days before Christmas, Lima was called to a shoplifting report at a grocery store in Somerset, Massachusetts.
Two women accompanied by two small children were reported to not be scanning all of their groceries at the self-checkout.
Officer Lima questioned the women, who said they had fallen upon "hard times" and "did not have enough money" to provide a Christmas dinner for the two children.
"The two children with the women reminded me of my kids, so I had to help them out," Officer Lima said.
He served the women with a "no trespass" order and did not press charges as all the items on the shopping receipt were for food, police said.
Lima gave the women the $250 gift card to buy Christmas dinner from the same store, at a different location.
"They were very thankful, they were kind of shocked," Lima told local TV.
"I'm sure a lot of people in that same situation would be thinking that there was going to be a different outcome, and maybe they would be arrested or have to go to court.
"I just did what I felt was right. It's not about me, I just tried to put myself in that family's shoes and show a little bit of empathy."