Airmen lend hand in shopping spree

Cannon Connections photo: Sharna Johnson Senior Airman Kurt Rodriguez, left, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Howard from the 27th SOW Security Forces Squadron help children select toys Monday during the Shop with a Cop program at Clovis’ Wal-Mart.

By Sharna Johnson: Cannon Connections

Leaning out of the Wal-Mart shopping basket, staring at the nearby toy isle, Janea Diaz couldn’t stop smiling Monday morning.

“She’s all happy because she didn’t have much of a Christmas last year,” her mother said. Doctors discovered the 16 month-old had a tumor last year and she has spent the last few months enduring medical procedures.

Janae was one of 212 children who got an expenses-paid shopping spree Monday morning, courtesy of donations and local law enforcement.

The Shop with a Cop program grew this year, nearly doubling from the 110 children it was able to help last year, Clovis Police Department Community Relations Director Josh Parkin said.

“We did quite well,” he said.

“It was such a big number of kids this year, we had to go outside the norm and get more volunteers.”

About 120 volunteers from the Clovis Police Department, Curry County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police, Motor Transport Department and Cannon Air Force Base Security Forces joined with administration staff, city employees and teachers and to assist the children in their shopping.

More than $21,400 was raised this year between community donations and the sponsorship of Watson Motors and Daylight Doughnuts, police Chief Steve Sanders said.

A new addition to the program this year — the register line was punctuated with a line of firefighter’s hats as members of the Clovis Fire Department bagged purchases to help ease the workload on Wal-Mart employees.

Through early morning, the isles at Wal-Mart, particularly the toy isles, swarmed with children, police officers, parents and other volunteers piling carts high with brightly colored toys, clothes and other items selected by the juvenile shoppers.

Each child — selected because of a need or family hardship — was working to select $100 worth of merchandise while their law enforcement escorts tried to help with selections and keep a tally of purchases.

“It went good,” Ignacia Sanchez said, holding her youngest son as her three older children played with McGruff the Crime Dog, giggling and all smiles.

“It’s a blessing.”