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Officers Stop Unsuspecting Shoppers Inside Grocery Store, Then Hand Them a Gift

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Being approached by a police officer can be intimidating, even when you haven’t done anything wrong. Many police departments have been working on their community presence by participating in local events that highlight the humanity of their officers.

Some departments focus on holiday outreach — including “pulling over” drivers and handing them frozen turkeys or cash instead of a ticket, though that sort of interaction can still spark momentary fear in the drivers before they realize what’s going on.

The Oceanside Police Department in California has taken a lower-key approach to that giving spirit, choosing to focus recent efforts on shoppers in grocery stores rather than drivers on the road.

“Most of the time when people call the police, it’s not under the greatest circumstances,” Jennifer Atenza, the department’s public information officer, told WMTV. “It’s when something bad has happened, there’s an emergency, there’s trauma involved. So, this affords us the opportunity to make connections under positive circumstances.”

It’s great timing since the price of staples has increased dramatically, leaving people in difficult financial straits even more strapped for cash.


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“Grocery costs have skyrocketed and Oceanside police officers are heading out to stores to help people overcome food insecurity,” the Oceanside Police Department posted on Facebook on April 19. “OPD will surprise shoppers with Random Acts of Kindness by helping with the grocery tab in April.”

It’s part of a Random Acts of Kindness initiative made possible by a generous $20,000 donation from the Fortin family, who founded the Trauma Intervention Programs, Inc.

“My family and I enthusiastically support the Oceanside Police Department Acts of Kindness Project,” founder Wayne Fortin said, according to the City of Oceanside.

“We can think of no better way for us to provide acts of kindness to Oceanside residents than by partnering with Oceanside police officers who are on the front lines and encounter those who need kindness and a helping hand on a regular basis.”

Each month, the department is implementing a different act of kindness, and April’s is to go out to local grocery stores and surprise customers with $100 bills.

“It’s a cool experience to get out in the community and make people smile and serve in a different way,” Oceanside Police Officer Andy Gularte said, according to Fox News.

“So, how much money do you think you’re going to spend today?” Officer T.J. Dunn asked shopper Sandy Hughes before handing her some cash, according to WMTV.


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“More than I want to!” she replied.

The gift was especially useful for Hughes, who was forced to move because of the increase in rent prices.

Multiple officers have been involved in the outreach, and they’ve made a positive impact on the locals. It’s difficult to tell who enjoys the gesture more — the officers or the recipients, but it’s certainly a win/win situation and something the officers will be continuing through the end of the month.

Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she’s strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.

As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn’t really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she’s had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children’s books with her husband, Edward.


Austin, Texas

Languages Spoken

English und ein bißchen Deutsch

Topics of Expertise

Faith, Animals, Cooking

Western Journal

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