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Shopping Spree Cops And Kids Together
Black-clad police officers and children hopping with excitement plunged together into the clothes aisles of a Crossroads Shopping Center store on Thursday afternoon as the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department again partnered with Riverbank community leaders and businesses to help 30 underprivileged youngsters during the holiday season.

The Shop With A Cop program each year pairs a needy child with a sheriff's deputy for a patrol car ride and a shopping spree. That is followed by a pizza party at the Riverbank Community Center, complete with an appearance by Santa Claus to pose for pictures with the kids and pass out gifts.

Shopping at Kohl's, young Jessica Magallon of Riverbank wanted shoes and persuaded Deputies Ruben Nuno and Ana Morales to go back into the shoe aisles when her bags already were full of clothes and they were headed for the check stand.

"We missed the shoes the first time around," explained her sister Annika. "She likes dressy shoes. I'm more athletic and simple in my tastes."

Deputy "Raj" Singh was paired with Alejandro Ruelas and showed off a thick flannel shirt with a heavy lining that they had chosen to keep Ruelas warm this winter.

Conspicuous by their camouflage fatigues among the uniformed deputies were Dave Waldbauer, Jimmy Freeman and Adam Rodriguez of the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team.

Their armored vehicle was pulled onto the sidewalk outside the store's entrance, together with police patrol units, and drawing comment from shoppers who visualized a raid or some emergency in progress.

Riverbank Police Chief Bill Pooley and local Deputy Jesus Sigala had been seeking the assistance of businesses, private citizens and local law enforcement officers for the past month to sponsor a child, serve pizza or shop with the children. Each child was allocated at least $150 to spend on clothes and a few toys.

Besides Pooley, Sheriff Adam Christianson turned up in person to shop for clothes with the children.

The department noted it specially wanted to thank not only Kohl's but Home Depot of Riverbank for donating fully decorated Christmas trees, Coca Cola in Modesto for providing soft drinks and Round Table Pizza on Claribel Road for donating food for the party.

Riverbank-based deputies who took part included Eric Torres, Josh Humble, James Walsh, Jerry Cosby, Donny Worsham, Mark Copeland, James Riley and Sigala. They were supplemented by the office staff, two local Sheriff's Team of Active Retired Seniors members and numerous deputies from other areas.