By Lt. Everardo Silva, AA/PIO
Calipatria State Prison

Calipatria State Prison (CAL) and Centinela State Prison (CEN) staff escorted underprivileged kids to the local Target store in El Centro during the 16th annual Shop With a Cop event on Dec. 9.

The Shop With a Cop program identifies kids between the ages of 6 and 12 who are underprivileged, have been affected by an illness or have experienced contact with law enforcement in their family. The event is an opportunity to engage law enforcement representatives and children for a couple of hours in a positive way.

The event paired 109 Imperial Valley children with an officer from different law enforcement agencies throughout the valley. After enjoying a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs donated by local vendors, the children participated in a procession of law enforcement vehicles. The procession went from a local high school to the Target store where Santa greeted the children as the toy aisles quickly filled with young shoppers accompanied by law enforcement officers.

Each child was 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 Anneliese Carney participated in the event for the first time.

“This event was very heartfelt. It was humbling to hear that the little boy she was with wanted clothing for school, before picking a toy,” Carney said.

She said the little boy told her, “Thank you for helping pick all the things I’ve ever wanted in life.”

“This year, Shop With a Cop was extremely fortunate to have raised enough funds to touch the lives of approximately 109 children in our community,” said Community Resource Manager Claudia Saldana. “It was one of the biggest groups of Law Enforcement participation – with 122 Officers – we’ve seen in several years and 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.”