Instead, Springfield police officers helped Washington's family, buying each girl a coat, shoes, gloves and, of course, a few toys.
On Saturday, 50 children from Matheny-Withrow Elementary School, including Washington's daughters, joined members of the Springfield Police Department at Meijer for the annual "Shop with a Hero" event.
Springfield officers spent $100 on each child, paid for by fundraisers and union dues paid to Police Benevolent & Protective Association Unit 5. School employees identified children whose families struggle the most.
"It's important that we ask the community to help us with our fundraising and we give it back to the community that needs us," Sgt. Andy Selvaggio said.
The best part is "putting a smile on a kid's face," he said.
Almost all of the students at Matheny-Withrow come from low-income families, principal Diane Motley said. "Shop with a Hero" provides necessities for about one-quarter of the school's kids. Teachers try to help others, she said.
"Some of our kids would actually go without," she said. "Maybe by Christmastime we've actually touched every family in some way."
Detectives Shane and Kim Overby brought their 1-year-old son Torin to the event. The Overbys said they love interacting with children who wouldn't otherwise receive much for Christmas.
"It always makes me feel good that I'm able to help," Kim Overby said.
Springfield's Pamela Chandler shopped with her five-year-old granddaughter, Akeyla Chandler-Henry.
Akeyla's mother, Ashley, works and is attending school full-time to become a registered nurse. It takes everything she earns to buy food and other necessities, Chandler said.
"She's struggling a bit," Chandler said of her daughter. "It's tough for everyone (right now)."
Mom and grandma talked about how they'd pay for Akeyla's winter gear. Then they received word from the school about "Shop with a Hero."
"She's going to be good and warm," Chandler said.
Keyonna Washington also lives paycheck-to-paycheck and said some Christmases have been sad because she couldn't buy toys for the children. However, community organizations have helped ease the burden. Washington said she thanked God when she found out the Springfield officers planned to buy the children's winter wear.
"I had a bill that I wasn't going to be able to pay," she said. "This just made our holiday."
Washington also wanted her children to realize the officers are here to help.
The event creates bonds between families and the police, Selvaggio agreed. It's important for children to see police officers as positive role models, especially when most interactions with police are traumatic.
"It shows them they can always go to a police officer if needed," he said.
After picking warm gear, Washington's four children each picked some fun items. Five-year-old Asia Collins beamed as she showed off her new dolls. She said the officers made her laugh. Seven-year-old Alyssia Washington and her 10-year-old sister Alexis Washington picked doll accessories and clothes.
The girls' 11-year-old sister, Arionah Gayton, took home the new Justin Bieber "Under the Mistletoe" CD. However, she focused on someone else - her mom. Keyonna Washington will have presents under her tree from Arionah when she wakes up Christmas morning.
The move impressed Officer Brian Hayes, who shopped with Arionah. His wife, Chalyce, is a substitute teacher at Matheny-Withrow, and the couple enjoyed the morning helping local families.
"You can tell they appreciate it just by their smiles," Hayes said.
Carrie Klug and her family couldn't be more appreciative. Three of her children shopped Saturday, while she and her mother-in-law waited with her other three children.
Money is tight, and Klug has six children. She still has to buy winter gear for the other three children, and said she doesn't even want to think about the costs. However, the police officers' help goes a long way, she said.
"It think it's wonderful that they do that for people who don't have much," said Klug's mother-in-law, Louise Mitchell of Spaulding. "It tells a lot about the Springfield police."