Shop With a Cop Helps Kids Get to School

Gilroy Police officer Dawn Delfino helps pick out new shoes for a family as part of “Shop with a Cop.”

Police know about protecting and serving, but for the past two weeks, they have added a new duty— shopping.
As part of “Shop with a Cop,” police officers take 100 needy kids and their families back-to-school shopping for school supplies at Kohl’s in Gilroy.
Local families said they didn’t know what they would do without the program organized by the Gilroy Exchange Club, the California Highway Patrol and the Gilroy Police Department
“We didn’t have money this year to buy clothes, so they are helping us a lot,” said Guadalupe Mendez, a mother of four.
Added mother of two, Regina Castro: “It helps you get the extra things you couldn’t get. I’m very blessed,” said Castro
Each family is paired up with a shopper from one of the agencies. The kids are recommended by school nurses.
The Gilroy Exchange Club started the program two decades ago, but police got involved six years ago. Former Gilroy Police Chief Denise Turner (now Denise Sellers) came out of retirement to help.
In order to serve all the families, the event is spread out over two Saturdays and the Shop with a Cop falls on the second day.
“They love this,” Sellers said of the police officers. “Last weekend they were here shopping with us too and they didn’t even have to be.”
The children are given about $150 with all the discounts.
The CHP raises money by selling legal fireworks with the El Camino Club. “This year we donated $2,000 to sponsor roughly 20 kids,” said Sgt. Chris Miceli. “And Kohl’s gives us another 30 percent off.”
Many of the officers use this as a chance to teach their own children about community service. CHP Officer Steve Parra, who has been volunteering for this event for the last five years, brought his twin daughters, Melissa and Morgan, 12, to help out.
“Every time I’ve come shopping, I’ve met a fantastic kid and a fantastic family,” said Parra. “To this day when I see them around town, they’ll come up and say “Hi” and smile. It’s a good feeling plus I’m passing it on to my girls.”
The Gilroy Exchange Club raised the money through its annual November Harvest Dinner.
The families are also treated to breakfast. Exchange Club member and community activist Carlos Pineda said this year Steve and Jan Pete, who own the local McDonald’s franchises, provided the meals.
Police found one family not in school, but in a tent. Officers were conducting a cleanup of a local homeless encampment earlier in the week when they came across them.
“There were four kids living in a tent (ages 3, 6, 14, 17) with mom and grandmother,” said GPD Sgt. Jason Smith.
“At that time the mother mentioned that she didn’t have any clothes for her kids to wear to school,” said Smith. “Their shoes were extremely worn down and dirty and they only had one pair each.”
He took action.
“Having daughters that are that age myself, I called my wife to see if she could put some clothes aside for these girls for school,” Smith said.
“Police Department,” Smith said he told them from outside their tent. “Wake up. I’m gonna take you to get some new school clothes.”
Smith said they were grateful for the experience.
“The kids had a hard time wiping the smile from their face and afterwards they got some breakfast, then we took them home.”
The Gilroy Exchange Club is holding its annual Harvest Dinner, Auction and Dance on Saturday, Nov. 18. For more information, visit gilroyexchangeclub.org or find them on Facebook.

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