Shopping spree program benefits 152 children

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Jacob, 11, already knew exactly how he intended to spend the $100 Walmart gift card he received during the "Christmas With a Cop" shopping spree Thursday.

He went immediately to work just after 9 a.m. and began filling his shopping cart.

A board game for dad. Slippers for mom. Two video games for his three siblings. A box of chocolate for his stepmom.

After the total came, there was just $9 left for the Carson Middle School student to spend on himself.

"That's OK," he said matter-of-factly. "I don't really need anything."

But volunteer shopper Kathy Bartosz, Partnership Carson City executive director, wouldn't let that little fact get in the way.

"Don't worry if you go over," she said. "What do you like to do?"

"I like board games," said Jacob with a shrug.

"Then let's look at board games," said Bartosz.

Jacob was among 152 Carson City children identified by the school district's Kids in Transition Program as homeless who were treated to the shopping spree.

When community donations were first sought, they trickled in, said organizer Detective Dena Lacy. But when word got out that some of the children wouldn't be able to participate, a flood of donations came that in this tough economic time seemed even more special.

And a plea for volunteers brought in more people than ever in the event's five years.

"This is proof that if you ask, you shall receive," said Alternative Sentencing Officer and organizer Meliah Gonzales. "Last night we were thinking, 'What are we going to do about volunteers?' and today, we have more bodies than we know what to do with."

The line of volunteers, made up of Carson and Douglas county deputies, fire officials, city and state workers, Western Nevada College employees, probation officers, state troopers and court employees, reached from the front of the Market Street store into the pet food section in the back.

And in the garden department where the tax-free purchases were rung up, at least another dozen volunteers were on hand to wrap the gifts.

"It's nice to let these kids that are not as fortunate as others share in Christmas," said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Sean Giurlani. "It's nice to give back."

Carson Sheriff's Detective Daniel Gonzales said the community donations this year paid for the entire event. In past years, the school district matched any funds raised. This time, it was donations alone that gave Carson's neediest children Christmas gifts and lunch, he said.

"Without the community support this would be nothing. These kids would not be served," he said.

The fact that strangers donated money was not lost on Cesar, a Mark Twain fifth-grader.

"Thank you for giving us the money. And I hope the money comes back to you," he said as his friend Sergio nodded.

"Thank you a lot," said Sergio. "I appreciate it."


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