YUCCA VALLEY — Sure, the kids had fun, but for that whole-hearted, innocent enjoyment of the season, it was the cops whose faces told the story of Shop with a Cop Saturday at Wal-Mart.
The Shop with a Cop program provides $200 to each to selected children, who pair up with a member of the law-enforcement community to go shopping at the department store.
“Me and him went shopping and he helped me find a lot of clothes and toys,” 8-year-old Izaiah McDermott explained as he and his shopping pal, Citizens on Patrol volunteer Jim Moore, waited for the clerk to tally up Izaiah’s items.
The kids must spend half their money on clothes, but may spend the other $100 on whatever they want.
Preston Kelley, a La Contenta Middle School principal’s honor roll student, had academics and athletics on his mind, finding a desk, a baseball bat and a weight when he hit the aisles with Rodney Cortez, presiding judge of the Joshua Tree Superior Court.
“I think it’s a great program,” Kelley said. “I had a really good time. This is a rare opportunity for me.”
Cortez was impressed. “He was very interested in his education; that’s why he picked out a computer desk,” the judge said.
Toys are probaly most popular, but many of the kids keep the spirit of giving high in their priorities, too.
“I got toys and lots of clothes,” 12-year-old Franklin Harwood of Yucca Mesa said.
“You got makeup for your mom and toys for your brother,” Deputy Mike Cusack reminded him.
“He thought of everyone but himself,” Cusack added. “I had to slow him down.”
Darrell Bundy III and Mike Bundy, from Twentynine Palms, made dad Darrell Bundy Jr. proud with their choices. “They got toys and clothes for their brothers. They’re so nice,” he said.
Darrell, 10, and Mike, 9, had big dreams when they hit Wal-Mart, though, and they used some of their money to make those dreams come true. Both were steering new bikes when they walked out of the store.
“That’s the first thing I got was the bike, and if I had to spend all my hundred on it, I would,” Darrell exclaimed. “It’s my favorite color, which is blue,” he added, pointing out the blue-colored parts on his new Huffy.
Beside him, Mike admired his new orange bike while talking about his shopping “cop.” “I had a Marine and he was nice,” Mike said.
“This is my guy. He’s cool,” Darrell said, gesturing to Sgt. Rick Millard, a county sheriff’s deputy wearing a smile as bright as his badge.
“This cop had a great time. I got to relive what it was like having my own kids this age,” Millard said. “I’m looking forward to it next year.”
Chimed in Darrell, “Me too!”