Sixty children from Agape Villages Foster Families and Love Inc. went on a Christmas shopping spree Saturday at the Manteca Walmart.
It was courtesy of the Manteca Police Employees Association – the department’s non-sworn personnel such as dispatchers, clerks, and community service officers.
Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion explained that it was all made possible through a local giving grant of $5,000 from Walmart along with a $1,000 that was budgeted from his Chief’s Foundation.
The chief encouraged the children to shop for what they wanted that they knew they were not going to get this Christmas rather than what they actually needed. Also on hand at the entrance of the store was the executive director of Agape Villages, Joann Beattie, and Steve Parsons from Love Inc. located at 609 W. Center St., and of course, Santa Claus.
Walmart General Manager Haron Razaq watched as the swarm of children and Mantea Police personnel entered his front door. He said his store was happy to be involved with the youngsters and it continues in its outreach activities throughout the community including donations made to the Second Harvest Food Bank. He also commended the police department for its involvement with the children in need throughout the greater Manteca area.
Each child was given a paper police badge to identify them as being either from Agape or Love Inc. during the storewide shopping adventure that saw them select everything from clothes and shoes to bicycles and toys.
Sgt. Chris Mraz, who heads up the department’s canine unit, escorted one boy and his basket through the department store with his Rottweiler police dog at his side. Manteca’s eight canines are trained to double as family pets as this one did on Saturday.
One man in his 60s wearing a Tracy High School sweat shirt overheard a young girl standing with her basket near the bike rack wanting a bicycle. But, she had already spent more than half of her allotment and the cost of the bike was out of the question. He picked up the bike and said it was paid for and could be picked up at the checkout stand with his receipt taped to the seat.
When Chief Obligacion asked his name, he declined to identify himself, not wanting any recognition for what he had done in the spirit of the Christmas season. The bike cost nearly $80.
The young shoppers and their escort personnel from the Manteca Police Department were asked to use the last checkout stand when they were through with picking out their presents. Janet Dyk who grew up in the rural Manteca area was curious about the activity of the police personnel and the children.
The chief was quick to explain and Dyk didn’t waste a second in reaching into her wallet and giving him a fresh $100 bill. She wanted to help. When she had worked her way through her checkout line, she gave her donation a second thought – handing Obligacion a second $100 bill to help in buying presents for the children.
Dyk owns and operates Magpie Antiques in downtown Ripon and has been the organizer of the annual Agventure at the Manteca School Farm for third graders throughout the school district. She noted that the children in the community have always been near and dear to her heart.
There was a second “shop with cops” effort on Sunday at Target Department Store where the Manteca Police Officers’ Association members shopped for children in need from individual scrolls made out by the boys and girls. Those funds came from the profits of their July Fourth of July fireworks booth. A story and pictures of that event will be in Tuesday’s edition of the Manteca Bulletin.