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San Bernardino County Sheriff's Employees' Benefit Association Back To School Shop With A Cop 2016

Shop with a Cop event helps 2 families affected by Blue Cut fire

By Beatriz Valenzuela, San Bernardino Sun


Ismael Sanchez, 18, who suffers from autism and whose High Desert home was destroyed by the Blue Cut Fire, goes on a shopping spree with San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies Eric Rebollar during SEBA's annual Back to School Shop with a Cop event at Walmart in San Bernardino, Calif. on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. The Sheriff's Employees' Benefit Association (SEBA) provided Sanchez and his family $1,000 to help replace items lost in the fire. (Photo by Rachel Luna/The Sun)

SAN BERNARDINO - Noah Moreno and Ismael Sanchez may not appear to have a lot in common. Noah is 7 and Sanchez is 18. Noah loves Minecraft and Legos and Sanchez enjoys music and riding horses.

What they do share is both of their families lost everything in the Blue Cut fire and both have a admiration for law enforcement. So when the boys learned they were among the 52 children in the county chosen to participate in the Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association annual Back to School Shop with a Cop event Sunday, their families were ecstatic.

“This is absolutely amazing,” said Melissa Hamilton, Noah’s soon-to-be stepmother. “I just can’t say thank you enough.”

Noah, who wants to be in law enforcement, happily walked down the aisles picking out clothes, toys and school supplies.

Hamilton and her boyfriend, Robert Moreno, Noah’s father, lost their home in the devastating, fast-moving wildfire that ravaged 37,000 acres in the West Cajon Valley which exploded Aug. 16 near the base of the Cajon Pass.

“It’s been really hard especially when he goes to try to play with some of his toys and he realizes they aren’t there anymore,” Hamilton said holding back tears.

Rosa Barragan, Sanchez’s mother, understands what the fire can do to children, especially to her son who is autistic.

“He needs routines,” she said. “They help calm him. Since the fire with no routine and none of the familiar things around him, it’s been a difficult process for him.”

Even Sunday morning, after prepping from his mother about the event, Sanchez became very agitated outside the Hallmark Parkway Walmart store in San Bernardino as dozens of children and uniformed San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies paired up for their shopping sprees.

“He almost wanted to leave, but he likes deputies,” said his mother. “And I think once he started speaking with the deputy it calmed him.”

Barragan smiled and said her son formed a bond with the Victor Valley station deputies who patrol Phelan because as a younger boy, he would call 911 whenever he had what she called a meltdown.

“To him it was an emergency and he knew that in an emergency to call 911,” Barragan said.

After a few calls and explanations, deputies began to get to know Sanchez and were able to help his family soothe him.

Sanchez finally made a pact with a deputy, Barragan said, promising not to call 911 again for an episode but instead, his mother could place a call to their local station.

Sanchez quickly warmed up to Deputy Eric Rebollar from West Valley Detention Center and the two were off looking at shirts, pants and vacuum cleaners.

Another person who put Sanchez at ease was Lolita Harper with SEBA.

When she went to greet Sanchez, the 18-year-old gave her a big hug and called her “mi amor” or my love in Spanish.

Harper and Barragan laughed and Barragan said, “He is an 18-year-old boy.”

Sunday was Rebollar’s first time participating in the SEBA annual event and didn’t know he would be helping Sanchez shop, but said he was glad to do it.

“I have a nephew with autism,” the deputy said after helping Sanchez choose a CD player and CDs from the electronic section. “It’s like we made a connection. I think this is a great thing.”

SEBA raises more than $200,000 annually to host such events including one in December for the Christmas holiday.

Each child is paired with a SEBA member and gets $200 to spend on themselves in order to help prepare for school. SEBA provides the $200 for each child and Walmart donates the sales tax, Harper said.

This year’s Back to School Shop with a Cop event had already been planned long before the Blue Cut fire devastated San Bernardino County, she said. In an effort to help the victims of the fire, SEBA added an additional $2,000 to be used specifically for children who had suffered from the fire.

Both Noah and Sanchez walked away with $500 worth of items not only for themselves but for their families to help them through the rebuilding process.

“It’s amazing what they are doing,” said Moreno. “I didn’t even know they did anything like this. This is really going to help (Noah) through this whole ordeal.”

http://www.sbsun.com/social-affairs/20160918/shop-with-a-cop-event-helps-2-families-affected-by-blue-cut-fire




Noah Moreno, 7, whose High Desert home was destroyed by the Blue Cut fire, smiles as he picks out a Minecraft toy while on a shopping spree with San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies during SEBA’s annual Back to School Shop with a Cop event at Walmart in San Bernardino Sunday. Rachel Luna/Staff Photographer




If you have any additional questions about any of the charities or fundraisers, please feel free to e-mail us at Michael.Tulisiak@seba.biz, or call (909)885-6074.

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