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Kids fill Christmas lists with shopping help from Gainesville cops
About 25 youngsters get $200 to spend at Gainesville Wal-Mart
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Brian Altis, 10, pushes the bike he picked out while shopping with officers Chris Letson and Dusty Adams during Shop with a Cop at Wal-Mart Supercenter in Gainesville on Friday. The bicycle was the item that Brian was looking forward to getting the most during the event. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Amid the buzzing crowd of Christmas shoppers, 9-year-old Yalanni Gomez led Gainesville Police Department Officer Larry Sanford to the large stand of Barbies. The trip around the Gainesville Wal-Mart was calculated, her grandmother Wendy Singleton said.

“She had it planned: five toys and the rest clothes,” Singleton said. “She likes to try and dress up.”

Gomez and some 25 kids participated in Gainesville Police’s “Shop with a Cop.” The children were given a $200 spending limit as they toured the store with Gainesville’s law enforcement officers.

Yalanni’s brother, Mario, took more to the games, however.

“He’s really more into the electronics,” Singleton said

Singleton called the afternoon a “true blessing.”

“It’s a blessing to be able to get them something they want other than what we can get,” Singleton said.

Sgt. Dean Staples worked to keep up with 7-year-old Brianna Moreno, who took to the clothing department as well.

“All you need is love and a unicorn,” Staples said, reading off of Brianna’s shirt.

As Staples has seen with other youngsters in years past, Brianna strived to get Alex Moreno, 4, into the shopping spree.

“She’s been very cognizant of wanting to get him things, and the 9-day-old brother,” Staples said.

“It’s pretty neat. I just don’t have the energy to keep up.”

Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said more than 25 officers came to the store Friday, most of them coming on their time off from work.

Holbrook and others helped to pass out goody bags supplied by Wal-Mart before wishes of a merry Christmas and the hauling of presents to the parking lot.

Pilgrim's Pride also provided funding for the event.

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