GAINESVILLE – Receiving a police escort is a pretty special event, but nowhere was that more evident than in the eyes of eight-year-old Jorge and four-year-old Gael at the Walmart on Shallowford Road in Gainesville Thursday morning.
While the boys may have exceeded some speed limits racing through the toy aisles, Gainesville Police Officers Sgt. Erin Escalante and SRO Danny Adames didn’t seem to mind one bit.
Their mother, Wendy Ramos, was actually doing the driving – of the nearly full shopping cart, that is – and even with a mask on her face it was evident she had a huge smile that went from ear to ear.
Adames says this is the fourth year he has participated in the department’s annual Shop-With-A-Gainesville-Cop program, but this year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has had to be done a bit differently.
“We’re kind of keeping everybody separate, coming in at different times with the different families,” Adames said. And the customary entourage of family members accompanying the youngsters on their merry adventure had to be limited as well.
This year’s event is blessing sixteen families according to Escalante. “We’re (shopping) in waves at 9:30, 11:30 and 1:00.” As to who pays for the Christmas gifts, Escalante says, “It’s through Pilgrim’s Pride, Walmart, and different other sponsors.”