By Lou Ponsi
“Code 3 down the aisles!”
That was the declaration heard among a group of 16 Garden Grove police officers, each pushing a red shopping cart with a child at their side, as they kicked off the GGPD Shop With a Cop event on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at the Target at Harbor Boulevard and Chapman Avenue.
Code 3, of course, is the code used by police to describe an emergency response in which officers need to flip on the red flashing lights and siren and get to a scene … fast!
At Target, it was about officers and their accompanying children navigating the aisles and filling each shopping cart with $100 worth of toys, games, clothes, books and gadgets, all free to the children.
Fourteen of the 16 children selected to receive the Christmas cheer live in the low-income Palma Vista neighborhood, where GGPD is partnering with residents on a year-long project to improve residents’ quality of life.
Camila Bello, 8, couldn’t contain her joy after using her $100 on a new bike and helmet.
“I’m so happy,” Camila said. “The other bike I have … I can’t fit in it. It’s too small.”
Camila’s mom, Mirna Quintero, said her daughter had been asking for a bike, but she would not have been able to afford it. “I’m not working right now,” Quintero said. “I’m going through a lot. I’m trying to survive cancer. I’m thankful that (the police) took the time to come out here to do this for the children.”
Many of the young shoppers picked out presents not only for themselves, but for their siblings and parents.
“Because they don’t have anything for Christmas yet,” said Azucena Suarez, when asked why she was selecting gifts for her five siblings and mom and dad. “I haven’t given them anything.”
Leo Bonola, 10, filled his cart with Monopoly and other games. Why? “I can play it with my family,” Leo said.
The Kiwanis Club of Greater Garden Grove club donated $500 and Seaside Inland Transport Inc. in Garden Grove donated $1,000 to make Shop With A Cop possible.
The Target store, managed by Lisa Boylin, also provided gift-wrapping stations, wrapping paper and refreshments.
In many cases, the items in the shopping cart exceed the $100 limit and when that happened, Target made up the difference.
So did Off. Ryan Bustillos, who kicked in about $20 out of his own pocket so his young shopper could walk out with everything she wanted.
“I’m not going to deny her,” Bustillos said. “This is what the season is all about. It’s about the kids. It’s about giving back to the community. I don’t have kids of my own so I’m glad I can help somebody else.”
GGPD Chief Todd Elgin said he was proud of the officers who volunteered for the shopping spree on their time off, many having just gotten off duty from graveyard shifts.
“This is the part of the job that makes us feel good,” Elgin said. “It’s an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than us.”
For more, go to http://www.behindthebadgeoc.com .
Categories: Garden Grove