Annual Shop with a Cop brings Christmas cheer

The Harlingen Police Department invited 68 HCISD students on a shopping spree.

The day began when students arrived at Target on December 8.

“We’re blessed as a school district to have a tremendous amount of support from our Harlingen community,” Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola said. “Our Harlingen PD and other local law enforcement officers are wonderful partners to our district. Today we celebrate these partnerships, but more importantly, we celebrate our children. This is a great opportunity for our officers to connect with our students.”

After taking a photo with Blue Santa, each student partnered up with a police officer, grabbed a shopping cart, and headed into the store.

“I feel that by being Blue Santa, I am helping the officers,” Carey Shamlian said. “I am giving something back to the community. I help to bring cheer to all the children and adults around. It makes their day, and it makes mine. If I can make someone smile for five minutes, I’ve done my job.”

Each student was given a $125 gift card to spend as they pleased.

Sam Houston Elementary fifth-grader, Derek Escamilla stood in the toy section with DPS Sergeant Michael Carrillo.

“Right now, I am looking for Legos, but I have a board game in my cart,” Escamilla said. “It’s checkers and chess because I like playing these games.”

Escamilla also had gifts for his brothers in the cart.

“I’m just glad that I got to be here with Derek,” Carrillo said. “It’s really cool that he was able to get stuff for himself and his family as well. I know sometimes it’s easy to only think about ourselves, but Derek was thinking about others too. He even shopped for his brothers first.”

Throughout the store, children filled their shopping carts with toys, games, clothes, books, and more.

Imelda Gonzales, a fifth grade student at Stuart Place Elementary stood in line, ready to check out.

“I went shopping, and it was really fun because I never get to pick everything out by myself,” Gonzalez said. “I got Squishmellows and Mini Brands. It was really fun because I had never tried anything like this before.”

Her shopping partner was Harlingen Police Chief Michael Kester.

“It is a great event,” Chief Kester said. “We enjoy partnering with the school district, and just getting a chance to meet the kids one on one and talking to them a little bit to get to know what they like.”

After their shopping trip, the students and police officers ended their day with pizza and games at Chuck E. Cheese.