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Local children chosen to shop with a cop for holiday gifts
by Jill Lufrano
Dec 07, 2011 | 1412 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Jill Lufrano - Elizabeth Mullins poses with Santa Claus for a photograph during Tuesday night’s “Shop With the Sheriff” event. The annual program selects children recommended by county social services to receive money with which they can buy Christmas presents for themselves or their family.
Tribune/Jill Lufrano - Elizabeth Mullins poses with Santa Claus for a photograph during Tuesday night’s “Shop With the Sheriff” event. The annual program selects children recommended by county social services to receive money with which they can buy Christmas presents for themselves or their family.
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RENO — Eleven-year-old Elizabeth Mullins was surrounded by sheriff’s deputies Tuesday night at Walmart. She had taken many items from around the store, choosing items for family members before herself.

But Elizabeth wasn’t in any trouble. In fact, the members of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Detention Response Team and one of the officer’s family members were helping the student from Jerry Whitehead Elementary School fill her basket with presents.

As one of the fortunate young people chosen to take part in the Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association’s 9th Annual Shop with the Sheriff holiday event, Elizabeth was able to visit with Santa and was given $200 to shop for presents and a $50 grocery gift card for holiday food.

When she was done, Elizabeth told her mother, Danielle, “That went really good, I want to do that again.”

She was able to buy herself five things, her mother said, and almost everything she chose was on sale. She shopped for everyone else first and for herself last, her mother said.

“It’s really exciting,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t really have any money of my own, so this is exciting for me.”

Dave Funk, who works at Umwa Bank, was among the honorary deputies who make the event possible, sheriff’s spokesman Bob Harmon said.

“They are responsible for making this happen,” he said. “They pull it all together. Truly it is a wonderful event.”

The event allows deputies to show the children their human side as they pushed the carts around the aisles of the massive Walmart store on Damonte Ranch Parkway. Some carts overflowed with stuffed animals and some tough-looking deputies had to help choose more delicate items when teamed with younger girls who wanted trendy undergarments. It was all taken in stride with a smile.

“Everybody is out there in a friendly environment,” Harmon said. “It really shows there is a lot of heart and soul behind the badge.”

For each child, the experience is something different, he said.

“It helps them to realize people do care. Nobody is forgotten,” Harmon said. “They take that with them, truly take that with them their whole lives.”

The participating children are selected by several local social service agencies that work with the sheriff’s office, Harmon said.

“There is always more kids,” he said. The event usually has a waiting list, but the sheriff’s department tries to select children proportionately from each social service agency, he said.
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