Las Vegas Sun

March 29, 2015

Currently: 64° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

NLV’s ‘Shop with a Cop’ puts smiles on kids’ faces


Steve Marcus

Romeo Salango, 4, looks over his presents at the checkout line during an annual Shop With A Cop event at the Target store at 2189 W. Craig Rd. in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, December 5, 2012.

2012 Shop With A Cop in North Las Vegas

North Las Vegas Police officer Marcus Cook gives a hug to Leonardo Solis as his mother Eida Gonzalez looks on during an annual Shop With A Cop event at the Target store at 2189 W. Craig Rd. in North Las Vegas, Wednesday, December 5, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Later in the day Junaisy Vargas would be back at the hospital for her 15th chemotherapy session, but Wednesday morning the 5-year-old girl had the chance to just be a kid, clothed from head to toe in pink, her favorite color, as she patrolled the aisles of Target looking for toys and pants.

Her parents, Antonio and Glenda Vargas, heard of the annual “Shop With a Cop” event put on by the North Las Vegas Police Department through the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation. It was an opportunity to have $250 to spend on their daughter, who 10 months ago was diagnosed with sarcoma on her pelvis.

“It’s a big help,” Antonio Vargas said of the free holiday shopping spree. “As a parent, we try to do the best for our daughter, but sometimes, things are out of our hands. She’s happy. She’s really happy.”

Each year officers – fathers and mothers among them – put aside their licensed lethal weapons to go to the department store to wear reindeer antlers. There, they shop with children, some with terminal illnesses and others who have families who can’t afford holiday gifts.

North Las Vegas’ “Shop with a Cop” event is in its 24th year and has been based at the Target at 2189 W. Craig Road for four years in a row. A $2,500 donation from Target and fundraising events in the past six months raised more than $17,000 for 52 children to buy toys, snacks and clothes. Each child and their family also received a boxed meal.

This year Junaisy was happy to get cookies and cupcakes, but Det. Sayoko Wilson, who was assigned to shop with Junaisy and her mother, steered the girl back to the clothes.

“Do you want to find some shirts?” Wilson said.

Junaisy's mother repeated the question in Spanish.

“Oh, si!” the girl said as the little tassel on her hat shook back and forth.

As the trio walked toward the shirts with a cart laden with items, Junaisy pointed to a sweater and said: “My mom got me one of these when I was a kid. I’m a big girl.”

The smile on the little girl’s face as she shopped is why Wilson takes part in the event.

“She wasn’t even looking for herself. She was concerned about her mom getting stuff,” Wilson said.

The event started at 6 a.m. and gave kids the chance to sit on Santa’s lap, watch a parade of police vehicles with the sirens blaring and lights ablaze, and a moment alone to get to know a person from law enforcement.

Portland Preston, a crime prevention specialist and self-described “people person,” has been organizing the event since 2009.

“I love people, I love kids,” she said. “I like things that make me smile on the inside. This makes me smile on the inside.”

As the event came to a close, Keil Ahenakew, a bailiff at the Justice Court, was happy to volunteer for the first time. The kids have enough problems, he said. As he was getting ready to leave, he handed the family he had helped to shop a $50 Target gift certificate.

“This is from me,” he said.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 2 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. This is a Good Thing. It's a shame it can help so few.

  2. This where I'd like to see Sheldon step up and donate a few dollars. Latest count put his "donation" to the election at about 150 million, 50 million higher than previously thought. Throw 5 million to a cause like this Shelley. The smiles, the smiles...if just for a day is well worth it.