It was an awkward sight at first: Students in a single-file line, facing deputies and volunteers in a single-file line and coordinator Kim Riggs in the middle looking completely at ease Monday morning.
She'd introduce a deputy to a child and, with neither knowing what to say to each other after hello, the duo would grab a cart and wander off into the aisles of Wal-Mart.
"I'm not soft very often, but I liked my little girl," said Detective Bob Motamenpour, who helped a girl spend her $50 on gifts for her family.
Volunteer after volunteer told the same story. The student they were shopping with wanted to buy Christmas gifts for his or her family. If the cost ran over the allotted $50, the volunteers opened their wallets.
One girl got her mom lotion, her father cologne and her 4-year-old sister a baby doll. "She's getting buying things for everyone else. I want to get her pants and a shirt," Detective Dena Lacy said.
And at Lacy's urging, the girl disappeared into the dressing room with an outfit and emerged smiling because the clothes fit.
"Is there anything else you want?" Lacy asked.
"I don't think I have enough money left," the girl said.
"Don't worry about that. We'll figure that out at the register. Do you want to get anything else?" Lacy repeated.
"Can we get food?" the girl asked quietly, her hair falling in front of her eyes.
"Yes. What is it that you want?" Lacy said.
"Well, I'd like to get cookies so my sister has something to snack on during the day." The two found a bargain in the cookie aisle.
Eighty middle school students, selected by school counselors, were treated to the field trip Monday to shop with deputies and volunteers from Harley-Davidson Financial.
Wal-Mart waived the taxes. The school district and Harley Davidson Financial Services, through a grant, footed the bill.
It was the first year employees of the Carson City Sheriff's Department took part in the event. Their participation was enough to inspire Deputy Dan Gonzales to start the department's own shopping trip, Gonzales said.
"We just found out a few weeks ago about this and so we couldn't do more," he said. "But throughout the year we're going to do our own fundraising for the same kind of event."
Recently, the North Carson City Wal-Mart also took part in a bike purchase, giving a discount to Capitol Police.
Officers pooled their resources and purchased 14 bicycles for children at Eagle Valley Children's Home, said Kim Evans, Nevada Department of Public Safety spokeswoman.
The Office of Traffic Safety donated helmets for each bike to be delivered to the children Wednesday.
"I'm extremely proud of our officers, particularly at a time like this when they reach out to brighten a Christmas morning for those who need a little extra help," said Capitol Police Chief Brad Valladon.
In the past four years, Capitol Police officers have donated 68 bikes, Evans said.
n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.