Though the weather outside was frightful, inside was so delightful as 51 Santa Clara Unified middle and high school students were able to purchase Christmas gifts for their friends and family at the second annual Shop with A PAL (Police Activities League) event at Kohl’s Department Store in Santa Clara on December 22.
The event, which has grown in the last year to accommodate six additional students, gave each shopper $150 (along with a 20 percent Kohl’s discount) to spend on Christmas gifts for their loved ones.
“This is the second time around for Shop with A PAL,” said PAL Executive Director, Officer Bill Davis. “Last year we did this, we had 45 kids and it was a huge success so the PAL Executive Board decided to make this one of our permanent projects.”
In addition to the generosity of PAL, the Peace Officers Association, and Kohl’s Department Store, Mariani’s Inn and Restaurant provided a buffet-style breakfast for the participants, Master Precision had t-shirts made, and Royal Coach donated buses to transport the students between locations.
“What I love and I get a little choked up, is that the little girl I shopped with, she bought for all her family and then herself,” said President of PAL Roseann LaCoursiere. “It says a lot. These are kids who wouldn’t normally have a great Christmas and that’s what is so great about the whole thing.”
During the event, PAL and Kohl’s talked about how they could combine forces to make Shop with A PAL even larger next year.
“I just spoke with Matt [Hogan, Santa Clara Police Department Public Information Officer] and the chief of police [Mike Sellers] about how we can expand it to even bigger for next year,” said Kohl’s District Manager Richard Jones. “So we’re going to be working with them throughout the entire year on volunteering at events that will continue to build money throughout the year so we can expand it next year…Every time that we volunteer at an event, for every store that we have come to that event, it’s a $500 grant that [Kohl’s] provides for [the organization]. [The store associates] get volunteer hours plus [the organization gets] a grant so we’re going to set up multiple events for [PAL] throughout the year and we’re going to try to do at least one a month with the Santa Clara Police Department.”
PAL didn’t stop with providing a personal shopper for the 51 students. The organization also asked the school district to identify 10 families who desperately needed a Christmas miracle. And while SCPD, community, and school district volunteers helped the students find gifts for their loved ones, Kohl’s volunteers shopped for the families and their combined 26 children. The gifts purchased were dropped off on Christmas Eve along with a holiday feast provided by Mariani’s and groceries that were donated by Santa Clara Soroptimist.
“Most of the people who work with us and see what we do and where the money [we fundraise] goes, always come back [to help],” said LaCoursiere.
All of the SCPD officers donated their Saturday morning to be part of the event and the 20 Kohl’s employees, from three stores, also volunteered their time to give the students a successful shopping experience.
“Every officer here is a volunteer – all these guys in uniform – they’re volunteers,” said Davis. “We’re very fortunate in that regard because all the PAL events – everything we do – is with volunteers and it wouldn’t be a success without them.”
Throughout the year, PAL raises money to support the community through its nine activities and various other fundraising events. For additional information visit www.santaclarapal.org.