CClovis police officer Brent Aguilar helps Fabian Selgado pull the rip chord on a spinning toy while Fabian’s brother Benjamin Selgado III looks on. Aguilar was with the boys during
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff
It was hard to distinguish who was having more fun — the cops or the kids — as they cruised down the aisles loading shopping carts with an array of toys.
Sixteen area children scanned the shelves for toys and games, working their way through $100 shopping budgets during the first local “Shop with a Cop” early Thursday morning at Clovis Wal-Mart. The money came from community donations.
Clovis police officers attempted to keep up with their charges as they darted from aisle to aisle in search of the perfect toys.
“I like to help. I believe in community service. I guess that’s why I’m a cop,” officer Miguel Galley said as he trailed 11-year-old Devin Cook, who led the way steering a new bicycle.
Eric Muller, community resource officer for the Clovis Police Department, said Devin made an impression on him when he went to his family’s home Wednesday to tell the five children they had been selected for the shopping trip.
“When I got there Devin was outside shoveling his neighbor’s snow to make money for Christmas,” he said. “He’s a very unselfish little boy.
“When I told them we’d like to take them shopping, their eyes just lit up,” Muller said.
Devin said he had a great time shopping with Galley.
“I got something I like,” he said, explaining his bike had broken and he had been waiting a year to replace it.
His younger brother, Christian Cook, 8, proudly displayed his purchases — Moon Shoes (“You put them on so you can bounce high”), two pairs of blue jeans, boxers and a wallet.
Fabian Selgado hung from the side of the cart while his older brother Benjamin Selgado III led the way for officers Chris Lopez and Brent Aguilar, their cart brimming with cars and trucks of varying shapes and sizes.
Officers volunteered for the shopping trip, each paired with a child who was given a gift card. Many of the officers were just coming off night shifts, but gladly sacrificed their initial sleep time to be there, Muller said.
Lt. Jim Schoeffel was grinning from ear to ear as he pushed a cart full of baby dolls and purple pom-poms. “She knows what she wants,” he said, rounding the corner in an effort to keep up with the quickly disappearing ponytail in front of him.
Clovis police raised enough money for 20 children to participate, but four could not make Thursday’s trip to Wal-Mart. Special arrangements are being made for them.
Muller said he hopes to include more children next year.
“The kids who got this really needed it and deserved it. It will be bigger next year.”
Later in the day, fighting tears, Kelly Cook, mother of Devin and Christian and their younger siblings, Brianna, 7, Andrew, 5, and Kyleah, 2, said the shopping trip was a “Christmas miracle” for her family.
“It was awesome. They have given me more than what they have given my children — (they gave me) hope. They made Christmas a Christmas. It’s not just what they gave, it’s how they were with my children. I will be eternally grateful.”
Her family wasn’t going to have much of a Christmas and things were looking dismal, she said. Her children could be heard playing happily as she spoke.
“They’re so happy. It has impacted totally their whole thought process of what police officers are to them.
“It may not have been much to the police officers, but it was a whole lot for these kids — they thought they won the lottery. (Thursday) was their Christmas, and they don’t expect anything else. They said that (the police) were their Santa Claus.”