Young shoppers go on Christmas spree |

Young shoppers go on Christmas spree

by F.T. Norton
Photos by F.T. Norton/Nevada AppealReserve Deputy Chris McMahon shops with students during the Holiday with a Hero shopping spree at the Carson City Walmart on Thursday.

Standing before a colorful array of pens and pencils, Chris, an 11-year-old Carson City sixth-grader, couldn’t contain his excitement Thursday.

He picked out Sharpies and mechanical pencils, erasers and highlighters.

His friend James, 13, kept offering suggestions on which packages were the better deal: “Here you get two for a dollar,” James reasoned, but Chris’ eyes were glazed over.

He had a $100 gift card to spend thanks to community donations and the sky was the limit, it seemed.

“I like to write and draw,” he proudly explained.

Just moments before during the Carson City Sheriff’s Office’s Holiday with a Hero shopping spree, Chris selected a fancy binder.

“My binder is literally made out of cardboard,” he said.

“We made it together,” said James.

The two were among some 151 Carson City students selected to participate in the yearly shopping spree formerly called Christmas with a Cop. Volunteers from law enforcement agencies, city offices and Walmart play chaperone and gift wrappers to the city’s neediest children. Walmart also covers the sales tax and accommodates the crowd.

Today, 19 high schoolers will be treated as well.

Wilbur, 8, and Yonathan, 9, each selected bicycles, which Deputy Sal Acosta hoisted into a shopping cart.

The boys were tickled, said Acosta.

“They said they’ve never had their own bikes,” Acosta said.

The bikes cost about $50 apiece, and after a few more items, they’d reached their $100 limit. Acosta, ever the cop, realized they still needed helmets. He helped his little charges pick them out and paid the extra $73 at the register.

“It’s OK,” he said humbly. “I’ll cover them. It’s one day a year.”

Seth, 13, did his shopping with event organizer Detective Daniel Gonzales. After selecting gifts for his grandparents, sisters and brother, Seth picked out a thing or two for himself.

“This is pretty fun,” said the freckled boy who’d just moved to Carson City from Las Vegas.

His brother, 11-year-old Zach, was shopping with another volunteer, so occasionally the boys would run into each other. But they had to be careful to avoid those rendezvous, because they were also looking for gifts to give each other.

Deputy Jessica Rivera admitted that when Sergio, 8, and Christian, 9, showed her a shopping list they’d made the previous night, its contents choked her up. There were no toys. The boys had carefully itemized clothing: snowpants, gloves, beanies, pajamas, coat with hoodie.

“That really got to me, ” she said, smiling with moist eyes. “They knew what they needed.”

Rivera was determined to get the boys toys, too. When their total exceeded the limit she covered the cost.

Alternative Sentencing officer J. Romero escorted fourth-graders Tim and Timothy, both 10, as they spent their gift cards. A large portion went toward gifts for their families. Each selected jewelry for their mothers.

“I wanted to give back to my mom for everything she does for me,” said Tim.

“She always gives me stuff and stuff, so I figured I wanted to give her stuff,” said Timothy.

Timothy was especially surprised to hear the money for the spree had been donated to him by strangers.

“Thank you for all the money you donated today for the kids that you helped,” he said.

Seth also wanted to express his gratitude.

“Thank you for everything,” he said. “I hope you have a merry Christmas.”