Eight-year-old Aiden Pinacruz’s Christmas presents came early, thanks to the North Las Vegas Shop with a Cop program.
Pinacruz wore a mask over his mouth on Wednesday morning due to illness, as he was escorted by North Las Vegas patrol officer Edwin Corales through the Target store at 7090 N. 5th Street to pick out free Christmas presents.
“It feels like I am in a beautiful, magical world!” a glowing Pinacruz said.
The mask prevented anyone from seeing Pinacruz’s smile, but his eyes told the story. They lit up each time Corales presented him with a new potential present for his review.
“This is my favorite part of the year,” Corales said. “Unfortunately sometimes we get really sick kids. A lot of the kids, they are suffering from illnesses, and their families have a lot going on financially, so there is a lot going on.”
There were plenty of other smiles visible throughout the event. Some 42 kids and their families received $200 apiece in free presents. The kids also got treated to a law enforcement parade featuring patrol cars, cops on motorcycles, SWAT units, police canines and even a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“We match up kids, whether they are having problems healthwise, kids in the community, certain schools (that) nominate certain kids,” said Officer Eric Leavitt. “We take them around to shop with a cop and give them a couple hundred dollars. … They love having us being here and we love being here.”
Target employees Andrea Gomez and Carey Schomaker said watching the kids shop with the officers is a profoundly heartwarming experience. Many of the children don’t seek gifts for themselves and instead pick out presents for their parents, brothers and sisters.
“It is actually kind of an emotional experience for me,” Schomaker said. “It is so cool to see all the people of this community come out to help support these kids.”
Corales agreed. He said many North Las Vegas officers dig into their own pockets to get the gifts the kids really want.
“We get $200 to spend on the kids but a lot of us, including me, … usually it comes out of pocket as well,” Corales said.