KAHULUI - Good fortune smiled upon Mason Long on Saturday morning.
The 10-year-old Wailuku resident scored a SpyNet Video Watch as part of a "Shop with a Cop" shopping spree at Kmart sponsored by the store and the Kiwanis clubs of South Maui and Kahului.
When asked about his favorite toy, he quickly pulled the video watch package from his shopping bag and excitedly explained its features.
Jacelynn Fong-Kimura, 7, eyes a toy at Kmart with Maui police officer Gregg Rowe assisting her. She later said her prized possession was a “Baby Alive” doll, chosen during the annual “Shop with a Cop” event.
The Maui News / BRIAN PERRY photo
It takes videos and pictures, has audio and night vision, "and you can play games," he said.
Mason was one of 30 fortunate children, from 4 to 14 years old, picked for the shopping spree from families at the Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center in Wailuku.
The keiki buddied up with more than two dozen Maui Police Department officers and cadets to fill shopping baskets with as much as $100 worth of merchandise. Not surprisingly, the toy department's shelves were a popular destination.
Officer Gregg Rowe teamed up with Jacelynn Fong-Kimura, a 7-year-old 2nd-grader at Wailuku Elementary School.
Jacelynn appeared timid at first, a little overwhelmed at being accompanied by a tall, uniformed police officer and confronted with a dizzying array of gift possibilities.
"She was shy at first," Rowe said. "But after a while, she was talking a lot."
Rowe said it was his fourth time helping children with the Kmart shopping spree, and he looks forward to the opportunity every year.
"It's rewarding to give back," he said.
Jacelynn's mom, Jade Fong, said that her daughter was "really excited" about going on the shopping binge. "She even made a list," she said.
Officer Edith Quintero helped sisters Kloi and Sammie Foster, who are 5 and 4 years old, respectively.
"They knew what they wanted," Quintero said. "They were on a mission."
She said she was impressed with the way Kloi helped her younger sister, taking her by the hand as they went through the store. At first the sisters were reserved, but they too warmed up after a while, Quintero said.
Aside from giving underprivileged children some much-appreciated Christmas gifts, the annual event gives police an opportunity to change the children's perception of law-enforcement officers, she said.
Quintero does community outreach work at schools and children often report being afraid of police officers, she said. She tries to change that.
"I tell them: 'Police are your friends. Our number one job is to protect and keep you safe,' " she said. "We're able to break that mentality."
Cheryl Calvan, Kmart's human resources manager, said store employees look forward every year to the "Shop with a Cop" event. Some employees dressed as elves, and Santa was there to present the children with wrapped, age-appropriate gifts, which were in addition to the $100 shopping spree each child received.
The Kiwanis clubs donated $50 per child and Kmart matched that amount, she said.
Kmart was "very grateful" for the participation of the Maui police officers and cadets, she added.
Tiffany Somera, director of children's services at Ka Hale A Ke Ola, said 30 children were chosen for the shopping spree based on good behavior and grades.
Unfortunately, not all of the shelter's children were able to take part. As of Saturday, there were 96 children with 50 families at the facility, just 10 days before Christmas.
Somera needed to choose which children would participate.
"It was really hard," she said.
* Brian Perry can be reached at email@example.com.