Christmas comes early for 170 Carson City children
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Carson City Sheriff’s Detective Craig Lowe realized he’d bitten off more than he could chew on Thursday as he stood in the toy aisle at the Market Street Wal-Mart in charge of three kindergartners.
Five-year-old twins Brandon and Gene, and classmate Antonio, were among 170 Carson City schoolchildren who had a $100 gift certificate to spend on anything they wished during the Christmas With a Cop shopping spree.
As is usually the case, Lowe’s 5-year-old charges had short attention spans. They flitted from item to item, tossing toys into the cart. They fiddled with everything in their reaches. They stood still when they should have been moving. They moved when they should have stood still.
A father of his own young sons, Lowe had never experienced this type of shopping frenzy. It was exhausting, while at the same time satisfying, he said.
Lowe was one of dozens of volunteers who took part in the fourth year of the spree funded by the generosity of the community and organized by the Carson City Sheriff’s Department for children identified by the School District’s Kids in Transition program as being in need. Wal-Mart waived the taxes and supplied lunch and beverages for the children.
Thursday’s event benefited the largest number of children, said organizer Detective Daniel Gonzales, who started the program in 2004.
“Because of the economy, more kids are being identified as falling under the homeless criteria,” he said.
About a week before the spree, Gonzales and co-organizer Detective Dena Lacy panicked because they weren’t getting many donations.
They made another plea to the community.
“Then the money was just coming in,” said Lacy. “We got personal checks for $200, $600, $1000.”
Douglas County deputies John Meyer, John George and Patrick Ryan also joined in, volunteering to shop with the children.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Ryan, adding he’d come back next year. “I had a great time and the kids were really well behaved.
Lt. Bob White spent the morning with brothers Ruben, 7, and Hector, 10. The boys bought gifts for their parents, “because we love them,” said Hector. And they snuck gifts for each other into the shopping carts as well.
When Kenny, 6, asked volunteer shopper Lani McKinley, Sheriff’s civil division manager, if he could look at the Christmas ornaments, McKinley asked the tow-headed boy why.
“He said he wanted to get something for his mom,” she said.
Kenny picked out two table-top Christmas trees for Mom and a motorized Santa Claus on a sled for Dad. For himself, he got a Star Wars light saber.
Because she didn’t have one at home, Kalani, 8, bought a Christmas tree.
“The need was much higher this year. Everybody is stretching pennies,” said Jeanette Famoso, Kids in Transition coordinator. “But the community really came through.”
Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.