Early Christmas surprise makes for “best day ever”

CONCORD, CA (Dec. 10, 2022) — The immensity of a gift’s meaning at Christmas time differs so much from one person to another. For those with much already, it’s a welcome gesture, while for others who wont for more and often receive little, the gift is priceless. Even life changing.

For five Cambridge Elementary School children such was the case as each reveled in unforgettable and unbelievable experiences, leading personal shopping-cart pushing members of the Concord Police Department through the toy aisles of the Pleasant Hill Target store on Dec. 3 in search for their favorite toys.

“This is the best day ever,’’ said 9-year-old Jonathan who with the help of Officer Javier Montes thoughtfully made one more selection after successfully calculating he had about $20 left to spend.

The first year that the Concord school is participating in the program with the agency, the kids were chosen at random to go shopping with officers based on their efforts in the classroom and overall just being good kids.

More gifts

Along with each receiving the Target gift card from the police department, each family received a $400 Safeway gift card from the Concord Police Officers Association. The holiday pot was further sweetened with a gift bag courtesy of the Sun Valley Mall management team that included a water bottle, a blanket, and a gift card especially for the parents of the children.

“I hope families will walk away with the understanding that the Concord PD is a caring community resource that they can count on for help if they need it,” said Joanne Wathen, vice principal at Cambridge Elementary School in Concord.

She viewed the program as opportunity to build trust between department and the Cambridge neighborhood. The school is a Title 1 institution serving immigrant populations from Mexico and South American as well as refugees including those from Afghanistan.

“It will show students that police officers are regular people that they can rely on,” Wathen continued.

The Shop with the Cops activity was accompanied by the annual Stuff the Cruise event that benefits the Monument Toy Drive.  Despite Saturday’s dreary conditions, Corporal Jesse Hunt said the public’s support was unwavering and four cruisers ultimately were crammed full of gifts that will be distributed Dec. 10.

“We are not just about enforcement,” said Police Chief  Mark Bustillos. “We do both sides to embrace those who need help.”

Visit https://www.monumentaltoydrive.org/ for more information about the upcoming toy distribution and how the public can support the event.