Wings and badges

LIHUE — An angel descended Monday morning on the Big Kmart store.

Arriving just minutes before the start of the Shop With A Cop program, the angel, who wanted to remain anonymous, added to a donation pile for the annual Christmas tradition that provides gifts for 50 children through the Children’s Justice Center.

“She was crying off and on throughout the morning,” Jarrett Chytka, the Kmart store manager, said about the angel. “She was really moved by this Shop With A Cop program.”

Around 50 Kauai police officers and staff were paired off with the young shoppers, who were provided with a free breakfast and a $50 Kmart gift card. But with the help of the anonymous angel, another $50 gift card, a crisp, new $20 bill, and goodies were added to the Kmart-provided bag for the young shoppers.

“When the angel discovered what we were doing, she said she needed to be a part of the program,” Chytka said.

The young shoppers are selected by various community agencies that work with children. Monday was a special day because Luis Soltren was also hosting his Christmas party for children at the Kmart store. Carillo said the Children’s Justice Center compiled the list of children for the Soltren Christmas party as well.

“Luis pays for the party on his own,” Chytka said. “We just help him with the event.”

Children spent the morning browsing the aisles of Kmart with their police officer escort and selecting items for themselves or family members, following their breakfast and a visit with Santa Claus.

Chytka said he’s been at the Kauai Kmart for 11 years and a part of the Christmas tradition each year.

“This is a special way Kmart gives back to the community, and it allows people to view police officers in a different light,” he said.

Jennifer Antony, a forensic nurse who works at the Kauai Police Department building, saw another angel, 12-year-old Brianna Ryan, appear at the Soltren party for about 50 needy children.

“Brianna wanted to do this,” said her mother, Laura Ryan, while meeting up with the children waiting to enter the Kukui Grove Cinema. “She is giving up her Christmas money to help sponsor two of the children through the day, including shopping at Kmart.”

Soltren said he never gets tired of helping children have a better Christmas, starting with lunch at the McDonald’s in the Kukui Grove Center, a movie at the Kukui Grove Cinemas, followed by a walk over to Kmart for shopping and food at Little Caesar’s.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” he said. “It’s just a nice thing to do.”

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