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For 55 needy kids, Santa wears blues & a badge
XMAS MPD4-12-16-13-LT
Off duty Manteca Police officers, their family members, and members of the Manteca Futbol Clubs U-9 Benefica girls soccer team went Christmas shopping at Target for needy kids. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca Police swarmed the Target Store Sunday.

They were responding to stop a crime from occurring: kids going without at Christmas.

By the time they finished they had helped provide Christmas gifts for 55 needy children on Santa’s list.

Officer Stephen Schluer, president of the Manteca Police Officers’ Association (MPOA), said his members had a double goal in their annual shopping trip.  Going along with them were family members and young athletes from the Manteca Futbol Club’s U-9 Benfica Girls Soccer Team.

Schluer said they had invited the soccer players to join them as a chance to teach team members there is something just as important as winning on the field and taking home championship trophies – the joy from giving to others.

It was a lesson in community service for the girls as they assisted officers in checking off the requested gifts on individual scrolls that had been organized by the Manteca Soroptimist Club for the underprivileged and the homeless of the Manteca school district.

The MPOA president explained that Christmas shopping in December begins with their members’ devotion to staffing their July Fourth fireworks stand at the corner of Union Road and Yosemite Avenue.  It is the profits from that booth that every year provides the funds necessary to buy thousands of dollars in Christmas gifts for youngsters in need.

Schluer said there were 11 girls from the team along with seven officers.  Most had three or four family members who came along to assist in the purchases.  He noted that most of the children had been very conservative on their shopping scrolls.  Priorities included warm blankets, winter coats, warm shoes, food and some asked for toys.  Two boys wrote on their wish lists that they wanted bikes for Christmas – they got their bikes.

In the case of filling the request for good, the MPOA had gift certificates from the Grocery Outlet market on East Yosemite Avenue near the Highway 99 freeway. 

We had one lady who was shopping in the store give the officers $100 cash, Schluer noted. 

“She told me she thought it was for a good cause and she wanted to help.  And, since she doesn’t buy fireworks, she wanted to give toward helping in the shopping,” he said. 

As always the Manteca officers were working on their own time and not being paid by the city.

Some of the officers’ wives and children worked at tables in Target’s snack bar wrapping gifts in colorful paper and bows making them ready for delivery.

Other officers shopping the aisles in addition to Schluer were Sgt. Mike Sexon, Officers Shawn Cavin, Steve Beermann, Jason Bonetti, MPOA Vice President Bryan Holland and Chief Nick Obligacion.

Once the gifts were wrapped they put in large plastic bags and taken to SUVs parked outside the department store.