Single Mother of 6 'Shops With A Cop'
Six siblings will have a brighter Christmas after their "Shop With A Cop" experience at Walmart.
Single mother, Norma Velazuez, raises six children ages 1 to 8 with no transportation. Night after night the family of seven snuggles up in a two bedroom apartment, being grateful for everything they have.
Eight-year-old Christian Rafael-Velazquez entered Walmart with his mother, Norma Velazuez along with Ludi Allen, a "Family Partner" from Head Start who gave them a ride and translated for Norma.
Christian's lips were quivering because it was below freezing outside, and he did not own a jacket. His feet had outgrown his pair of shoes, and it was clear that more than toys were needed for Christmas. He was just one of six siblings who all shared same situation.
Cpl. Jim Orlando was the officer paired with the Rafael-Velazquez family. Orlando's wife, Jill, has been helping children at Christmas time with her husband since he began doing this 18 years ago. Year after year, their own children accompanied them as they changed children's lives during the Christmas season. Their older son will be delivering food to the elderly with his dad this coming weekend.
"Some of the kids have literally nothing, it breaks my heart," Jill said.
Jill said there have been many occasions where she couldn't bear to see a kid go without a jacket or shoes so she used her own money to make sure that child had what he or she needed to be warm and safe.
Jim said he remembers when the "Shop With A Cop" program involved purchasing gifts at Walmart, gift wrapping them and then hand delivering them to various homes.
Now that so many families are involved, the program has evolved to having families go to Walmart and getting the opportunity to have a personal shopping experience with a police officer. Together, they pick out approximately $55 worth of gifts per child in the family, depending on how many families are involved and how much was received in donations. This new way of shopping with families is more personal, Jim said.
Christian had the job of selecting toys for his four younger brothers, Alexander, Angel, Miguel and Yonathan and his little sister, Kimberly, as they were all home sleeping. It was clear Christian was deeply familiar with what each sibling liked and disliked. He very carefully considered what gift would be most loved by the other five children.
Christian's mother knew what they really needed was clothing. She was able to purchase shoes and jackets for all six children as well as a special toy for each.
After two and a half hours, their "Shop With A Cop" experience came to an end, within 25 cents of their budget. Norma said she was deeply touched by the experience.
"This makes me feel good because I can't provide a Christmas for them."
Contact Sgt. John Forkin at 770-479-4766 ext. 21 to donate or volunteer. Donations are accepted year-round. "Shop With A Cop" relies on donations from citizens, businesses and churches.