Lathrop Police Services deputies, Sheriff Steve Moore and other deputies assigned throughout the county met with third grade children and their parents Wednesday morning and were taken through the Target Store along Interstate 5 with $115 for each of them to spend.
Deputies treated the boys and girls like they were from their own families for over an hour as they pushed the baskets through the aisles of toys and clothes that many of them bought for mom and dad along with their siblings leaving a little cash for a toy or two for themselves.
The day started with the youngsters being taken into a break room where they were served scrambled eggs, bacon, orange juice and milk, waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus coming with a red light and siren police escort. When the boys and girls finished their breakfast, they were taken outside to the front of the store where they waited at curbside for a jolly St. Nick who arrived waving out the window of a command unit vehicle with its own flashing red and blue lights, with them pretty much mobbing Santa when he crossed the curb.
Deputy Chris Masuoka was one of those deputies who just couldn’t tell a youngster he had gone over his spending limit and would have to take several gifts out of the large red basket they were pushing. He took out his wallet at the checkout and was going to pay the difference between $115 and $200. A Target supervisor jumped in and said he wasn’t about to pay the difference that Target would take care of that increase.
“Not a big deal,” the deputy said. “I just wanted to make sure the boy had a great Christmas.”
River Islands third grader Destiny Berrega, 8, from the River Islands New Generation Steam Academy was vocal about her new school. She said she started understanding everything after being at the school for only half a year.
Destiny was one of the children who were shopping with her family in mind when she picked items off the shelf. When asked she offered that she has a list of chores at home including cleaning her room, the kitchen and vacuums the house for her mother. Destiny has three pages of homework every night – one in language arts and two in math.
The event was co-sponsored by the Deputy Sheriff’s Association that reached out to LIMA, the Law Enforcement Association and the Deputy Sheriffs’ Sergeants Association that provided the funds for the purchase of the gifts with the help of the Target Store.
Working the shopping trip with other deputies representing those groups were Jeff Watson of the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association who is also the Lathrop School Resource officer, Deputy Shelby Oliver, Sheriffs’ Sergeants Association; Kili Seto, vice president of the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and Steve McCulloch, president of the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association along with Capt. James Hood, chief of the Lathrop Police Services office.
Many of the children told of having fear when they were called to their school’s office to learn they had been selected to go on the shopping trip with the deputies. They were all surprised to find two uniformed officers waiting to meet them as they walked through the door of the principal’s office wondering what they had done wrong – only to find out they were being treated very special for Christmas.
After the shopping was over and the children had gone through the checkout lines, there was only one thing left – high 5s and hugs for the deputies they had feared when they walked into the school offices.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org