Virtue Wins Youngsters Tasty Reward

Griselda Galvan made a promise Wednesday never to take part in graffiti vandalism. Then she sealed the pledge by gulping down a wild-cherry Slurpee. "This is so tasty!" the 8-year-old girl said, flashing a red tongue.

She was one of dozens of youths who received free Slurpees from the 7-Eleven store at Beach and La Habra boulevards for vowing to stay out of trouble.

Police officers handed out certificates for the icy drinks at the store, where they kicked off the "Put the Freeze on Graffiti" program.

More Slurpee certificates will go to youngsters seen wearing helmets while riding bicycles, wearing seat belts or doing good deeds, said Cindy Knapp, La Habra's DARE officer.

The program began in Garden Grove, where 7-Eleven owner Navdeep Singh Basi and the local police created it to discourage kids from painting graffiti. Since its implementation there, the program has expanded to several cities in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties.

La Habra is the latest to join the program, which 7-Eleven's loss-prevention manager, Kevin Eliason, said will continue to grow.

"We're getting our 7-Eleven stores working with the police and the kids in a positive way," said Eliason, a former police officer. "It's good business."

The program also boosts the image of police officers, Knapp said. "It's a good public relations tool with the children, and it encourages kids to make good choices and be involved in the community.

Twelve-year-old Damaris Gamez agreed.

"Giving us free rewards helps," she said. "It makes people think the police are nice people."

Luis Diaz, 15, said he thinks the program will also "get kids to want to do good things."

Parents were supportive too. Mariana Galvan, Griselda's mother, said, "This is a good thing. The children will see that the police do care about them."

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