Shop with a Cop brings early holiday cheer to Glendale youths

Clutching a small plush pig, Zoe Morrison Walker stood in the toy aisle at the Target store in the Glendale Galleria Friday evening trying to decide what else to put into a nearby shopping cart.

The shopping trip came as a surprise to the 6-year-old and her 10-year-old brother, Wyatt. The pair thought they were just going for some routine shopping with their mother.

“She told us we were going to Anthropologie, but she tricked us,” Zoe said.

The “trick” was actually the Glendale Police Officers Assn.’s annual Shop with a Cop event. Forty Glendale youths were handed $150, and it was up to them to decide how to spend it.

Amy Tate, chairwoman for the association’s Cops for Kids program, said each child was handpicked to participate in the event.

“Every child that’s here has a story; a recent death in the family, mental illness, almost homeless … each struggling and trying to do good in school,” she said. “They were selected as a thank you for being a great kid.”

Tate said the event was funded by Target and was originally slated for a group of 10 children. However, the retail store then expanded it to include an additional 30.

Ryan Sebesta, who works in the store’s assets protection department, said this year’s Shop with a Cop is the biggest the company has done at the Glendale Galleria.

Elsewhere in the store, 10-year-old Jazmin Alavez and 9-year-old Jacqueline Perez are filling up their cart with various school supplies and clothing.

Jazmin said she was excited about the event because they could “choose whatever we want.” She singled out her favorite item in the cart, a sweatshirt adorned with “Believe in Yourself” in shiny letters.

Officer Diana Valencia, who helped the two girls with their shopping, said she was impressed by their choices and with the event as a whole.

“You think little kids just want toys … [but] they want school supplies and clothes,” she said. “Getting to know these kids and seeing they want socks, things they need, it’s awesome.”

Back in the toy aisle, Zoe was still figuring out with her brother what else to put in their cart, which had at least one new item — a small plush pig.

“Oh yeah, it’s fluffy,” she said.

andy.nguyen@latimes.com

Twitter: @Andy_Truc

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