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Shop with a Cop
Deputies partner with local youth to brighten holidays
VICTORVILLE • It's not often that you see a large group of deputies shopping in the junior's clothing section at Walmart.
On Saturday morning as part of the annual Shop with a Cop event, approximately 50 deputies in uniform pushed carts throughout the Victorville Walmart, each accompanied by a local child or teenager on a $200 shopping spree.
Ten-year-old Nigil decided to spend his money on a bike and a football in addition school clothes. In the checkout line next to Deputy Scott Stafford, Nigil was beaming as he sat on his bike and snuggled into a new jacket.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Stafford said. “Kids get to see police officers in a different, positive light.”
Funded by the San Bernardino County Safety Employee’s Benefit Association, this annual event aims to target at-risk youth. SEBA raises money throughout the year to hold the event at Walmarts across the county during the Christmas season.
Each participant is given exactly $200 to spend, with half the money reserved for school clothes and the other half for whatever the child wants to buy. Items purchased on Saturday included from light sabers, makeup, Legos, makeup and gifts for others.
Saturday’s event in Victorville will be repeated today at the Hesperia Walmart with the same number of children and officers.
“It helps bring up that Christmas spirit,” explained Daniele Freer, media relations officer for the Cadet Corps, who were volunteering at the Victorville event.
In the Walmart garden area, members of the Cadet Corps helped the event run smoothly by checking families in as they arrived, pairing each child with a officer, and making sure the pair got a photo together with Santa.
Despite being early on a Saturday morning, the atmosphere was happy and upbeat. The officers, who were all off-duty and volunteering, joked with each other and the children.
“The cops seemed like they all wanted to be here, not like they were forced to be,” Gabriela Kurpa, 17, explained as she waited to check out with a car filled with clothing along with household items, including a welcome mat.
Alisan Banuelos, 17, picked out clothes for herself, but decided to spend the rest of her money on gifts for her 7-year-old brother.
“You made my day,” Deputy Daylynn Pollard said to Banuelos as she picked out presents for her brother. “It’s so hard to find people who are a blessing as well as needing it.”
All the participants at the event were nominated by deputies who encountered the children and teenagers during the year on various assignments.
According to Sgt. Ken Lutz at the Hesperia station, there were fewer donations this year due to the economy, making the event smaller than in past years.
“It breaks your heart that for every child who is here, there are hundreds more who need the help,” Deputy Monsalve said, while watching pairs check out. “The event is based on the community being attune to its kids’ needs.”
Many deputies at the event commented on how they loved seeing the kids smile and appreciated being able to interact with the youth in a happier setting than they usually do while on duty.
“We’re lucky to have stable jobs,” Pollard said. “It’s nice to give back.”
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