SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Six young siblings will be celebrating Christmas for the first time without their devoted mother, Erica Chanon Pantoja. She was brutally murdered by her estranged husband in a San Jose apartment complex earlier this year.
The Shop with a Cop Foundation of Silicon Valley nonprofit organization is helping the six orphaned siblings through an annual event organized for children who survived terrible tragedies.
So far, 265 children in-need have signed up to “shop with a cop” on December 8 and created holiday gift wish lists.
“For many children it will be the only holiday experience they will have. Every child has a story and is facing financial hardship,” said Darrell Cortez, who is a retired San Jose Police Department officer and organizer of the event.
Hundreds of Bay Area law enforcement officers and firefighters volunteer for the event because “we care for them and we will always be there for them,” Cortez said. “All the first-responders are volunteering their time to chaperone a child.”
The police foundation will be hosting the children’s shopping spree on December 8 and donations from the community are still needed. “It’s important to give back, especially this time of year. One hundred percent of the money raised goes into this event. Dollar-for-dollar,” Cortez said.