By Lt. Everardo Silva, AA/Public Information Officer
Calipatria State Prison
Calipatria State Prison (CAL) and Centinela State Prison staff recently escorted underprivileged kids to the local Target store in El Centro during the annual Shop with a Cop event.
The concept behind the Shop with a Cop program is to identify kids between the ages of 6 and 12 who are underprivileged, been affected by an illness or have experienced contact with law enforcement in their family. This event is an opportunity to engage law enforcement representatives and children for a couple of hours in hopes they may form a lasting bond.
The event paired 98 Imperial Valley children with an officer from different law enforcement agencies serving the valley.
After enjoying a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs donated by local vendors, children rode in a procession of law enforcement vehicles running from a local high school to the Target store where the toy aisles quickly filled with young shoppers accompanied by law enforcement officers.
Each child is given a $100 gift card to spend as they wished. Law enforcement personnel assigned to the children escorted them around the store and assisted them in selecting gifts.
CAL Correctional Officer Javier Rojas has participated in the event for the last seven years.
“This event has become a family event, where my wife, my kids and even my grand-kids, accompany the young children in shopping,” said Officer Rojas. “It is heartfelt and humbling to hear that the children shopping want to shop for their parents or siblings first before getting their own toy.”
According to Community Resource Manager Claudia Saldana, due to generous donations, they were able to help 98 children in the community.
“It was one of the biggest groups in several years,” she said. “The best part about it is the long lasting effects it will have on the children who were able to spend quality time with these selfless law enforcement agents who enjoyed themselves as much as the children did on this one special day.”