The kids met with the deputies and explorers at the Walmart Supercenter just before 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, for a “Shop with the Sheriff” event.
“This was all made possible by the Explorer Post 200,” Sheriff Carlos Carrizales Jr. said as he and Chief Deputy Alden Southmayd gathered with deputies, explorers, children and family members in the store’s garden center.
Carrizales said the explorers made the event possible. They had been holding fundraisers and taking donations for months in preparation for Christmas this year.
Pawnee Independent School District officials had selected the students on the basis of need.
For each one, something had happened in the family to limit the amount of money that could be spent this year.
Carrizales said each child would be allowed to spend $100. That amount grew a little after a friend of his, Helen Horrell, called the sheriff over and slipped a large bill in his hand.
“If the kids go over a little, we’ll cover it,” the sheriff said with a wide smile.
The deputies encouraged each of the children to start shopping in the toy section. But in every case, the small groups of deputies, explorers and students drifted to the clothing section.
Adam Chase II wanted a new pair of shoes, and with the help of Deputy Sgt. Derek Franco, he had his shoes picked out in just minutes.
Alexis Gonzales wanted a “kitty”, and she found the perfect one in the stuffed animal section. She kept looking at her kitten and smiling throughout the shopping spree.
Carrizales said it was obvious that some of the students ended up picking out items they thought would make nice gifts for their family members.
“We didn’t say anything to them. It’s Christmas,” the sheriff said.
“We plan to do this every year and to pick out a different section of the county for the event,” Carrizales said.
He said he had hoped the Shop with the Sheriff event could have had more money this year. But he hopes for more donations and fundraisers for next year.
One thing is certain. After seeing the smiles, hearing the giggles and seeing some tears shed by some of the children and the others shopping with them, the event was more than worth the effort.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.