Orange Police Department hosts Christmas shopping spree for underprivileged children

By Daniel Langhorne

Orange police officers and staff members treated 33 children to a Christmas shopping spree this December, bringing holiday cheer to families who would otherwise go without presents.

Officers connected with the children through the Friendly Center, a local nonprofit organization that offers free educational programs and other services to low-income families. A lot of these children either live in a small apartments or homes where they sleep on the floor, said Yanira Hirschfeld, coordinator of the Friendly Center’s education program.

Orange Police Officer Matthew Moss talks to the kids as they gather at the Orange Mall for the City of Orange Police AssociationÕs Shop with a Cop.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Officer Dan Norman, president of the City of Orange Police Association, said he was happy to see one of the mothers smile and get excited about her daughter picking out her Christmas presents during the Orange Police Department’s 12th annual Shop With A Cop event. Police officers and department staff members donated their time off to work the event.

“As a police association, we can do our part to help the community and help the kids make their Christmas a little brighter,” Norman said.

Members of Orange Police Department gather at the Orange Mall with the Shop with a Cop kids sponsored by the Orange Elks Lodge #1475, Walmart, The Village at Orange, Buffalo Wild Wings and Kay Jewelers.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Before grabbing their shopping carts at Walmart, Orange police officers and their assigned shoppers dined on chicken wings and French fries at the Buffalo Wild Wings next to Walmart. They then took the trackless Bellatori Family Train through the Village at Orange to have their photo taken with Santa Claus.

As they waited their turn to sit on Santa’s lap, the children received a surprise visit from Officer Damon Allen and his K9 Danto, who eagerly accepted pets from the many small outstretched hands. The German Shepherd even got an opportunity to take a photo with Saint Nick.

Orange Police Officer Jahseam George walks with kids to the Orange Mall to visit Santa at the start of the Orange Police AssociationÕs Shop with a Cop.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

The officers and children then scoured the aisles at Walmart for the perfect gifts. Most headed directly to the toy aisles, where they pulled items like a blue and pink bicycle and a miniature shopping cart off the shelves.

Officer Gregg Cates was partnered with Michael Soperanez, 9, to pick out a Jurassic World LEGO set, a scooter, and a toy Lamborghini. Michael also picked up an oversized Hershey’s chocolate kiss for his mom.

Buffalo Wild Wings at the Orange Mall treated the kids, and Orange police officers volunteering their time, with a free dinner at the start of the Orange Police AssociationÕs Shop with a Cop.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

“I did this last year too and it’s amazing,” Cates said. “I’ll do this every year that I can when I’m not scheduled to work.”

As the shoppers left Walmart with their gifts, Officer Augie Rocha was there to meet them and pulled an extra surprise out of his patrol car — a stuffed teddy bear or dog.

Norman thanked Orange Elks Lodge #475, the Village at Orange, Buffalo Wild Wings, Walmart, and Kay Jewelers for helping make Shop with a Cop possible.

Six-year-old Iris Hernandez visits Santa at the Orange Mall with Yolanda Flores of the Orange Police Department, left, during the Shop with a Cop event.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Orange Police Officer Jahseam George stays with the kids as they wait in line at the Orange Mall to visit Santa.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Eight-year-old Kimberly Hernandez and Orange Police Sgt. Phil McMullin take a train ride through the Orange Mall during the Orange Police AssociationÕs Shop with a Cop event.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Thirteen-year-old Ariadna Vidal smiles as Orange Police Officer Tyler Raabe takes a selfie during a visit with Santa at the Orange Mall as part of the Shop with a Cop event.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

The Orange Mall train takes Orange Police Department officers and the kids they are partnered with to visit Santa and then to Walmart for the Shop with a Cop event.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Orange Police Officer Damon Allen takes his K9 partner, Danto, out to meet the kids as they wait to visit Santa at the Orange Mall.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Orange Police Officer Greg Cates helps Michael Soperanie, 9, left, and Samuel Hernandez, 5, pick out toys during the Shop with a Cop event at Walmart in Orange.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Orange Police Clerk Ana Castillo helps 8-year-old Sol Reyes pick out what she wants during the Orange Police Department’s Shop with a cop event at Walmart.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Orange Police Explorer Sgt. Kelly Banderas helps 8-year-old Aliyah pick out toys during the Orange Police Department Shop with a Cop at Walmart.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge