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Kids treated to dinner, Target spree during Fullerton PD’s Shop With a Cop

Kids treated to dinner, Target spree during Fullerton PD’s Shop With a Cop

At-need kids treated to dinner, Target spree during Fullerton PD’s Shop With a Cop 

By Greg Hardesty

The 8-year-old girl had a question.

“Am I going to go with a police boy or a police girl?”

Yusra Khan said she preferred a girl cop.

“Because they’re fancier,” she explained.

Yusra got not one, but two female FPD employees — one a police officer, the other a civilian member of the professional staff — to accompany her and her mother during the Fullerton PD’s Shop With a Cop on Dec. 10.

In the annual event, Fullerton PD employees, including Chief Dan Hughes and members of his command staff, spent a few hours with at-need children who were handpicked by their teachers for a Mexican dinner with FPD employees followed by a shopping spree at Target.

Each kid — there were 10 participants this year — received a $100 gift card, made possible this year by donations from the community, to buy what they wanted. And in most cases, police officers and other FPD employees dug into their own pockets to make the kids’ Christmas a little brighter than usual.

Accompanying Yusra and her mother, Amena Syed, a single mother of two and part-time mathematics instructor at Cal State Fullerton, were Cpl. Gabby Soto, a school resource officer, and Julie Langstaff, technical services manager at the FPD.

“I love this,” said Langstaff, participating for the first time in Shop With a Cop. “I love being able to help people who are less fortunate than I. It’s very rewarding.”

Yusra purchased gifts for her friends and one for charity.

“This is really exciting,” said Yusra, a special-needs student at Hermosa Drive Elementary School. Yusra has been diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum, her mother said.

“We did a dry run (of the store) last night,” Syed said. “New experiences sometimes can be overwhelming to her.”

Yusra was delighted as Soto and Langstaff, along with her mother, whipped around the store, snatching up a Wii game, a dog toy, a Lego game and several other items.

“Mom, do you like jewelry?” Yusra asked as the foursome passed the jewelry section.

“You might like this one, mom,” Yusra said in the DVD section as she picked up “Ant-Man.”

A woman in the Target who spotted the FPD officers broke down and cried when she explained to a couple of them how she and her daughter, 7, and son, 5, had fallen on hard times.

Merissa Lopez, 23, said she was at the Target to buy a temporary cell phone because her service got cancelled on her regular phone due to unpaid bills. She said her husband was looking for a job.

“It’s hard this year,” Lopez said of Christmas.

In true holiday spirit, FPD Sgt. Kathryn Hamel stepped up and, with Hughes’ blessing, whipped out a credit card to buy more than $150 worth of gifts for the Lopez family.

Said Lopez of Shop With a Cop, in a sentiment shared by all participants:

“This is a big blessing.”