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Smiles come easy for Gateway kids and others at annual Shop With a Cop event

Dillon Carr
| Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, 1:33 p.m.
With the help of Gateway schools Officer Ray Andrekanic, Gianna Reynolds-Henderson, 6, makes her selections at the Shop With a Cop event, Wednesday, Dec. 20.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
With the help of Gateway schools Officer Ray Andrekanic, Gianna Reynolds-Henderson, 6, makes her selections at the Shop With a Cop event, Wednesday, Dec. 20.
Gateway schools police Officer Tim Skoog watches as Mya Fleming, 9, chooses a doll during the Shop With a Cop event, Dec. 20.
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Gateway schools police Officer Tim Skoog watches as Mya Fleming, 9, chooses a doll during the Shop With a Cop event, Dec. 20.
Partick Daniels Jr., 4, and his brother, Shawn, 9, with Monroeville police Officer Mark Savage at the Shop With a Cop event at the Delmont Wal-Mart, Dec. 20.
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Partick Daniels Jr., 4, and his brother, Shawn, 9, with Monroeville police Officer Mark Savage at the Shop With a Cop event at the Delmont Wal-Mart, Dec. 20.

Dallas Fleming, 7, sported a SWAT vest and a beaming smile as he walked with Gateway schools police Officer Tim Skoog down an aisle at Wal-Mart during this year's Shop With a Cop program.

The Monroeville boy had reason to smile: He was about to pick out a new bicycle and matching helmet to take home, courtesy of the program that sends police on a shopping spree with kids whose Christmas might need a boost.

“Every parent wants to give their kids everything they can buy,” Skoog said. “But when some go through tough times, it's great that we can help out. It's a good feeling.”

Dallas and his mother, Apryl Davis, know a little about tough times. Davis gave her newborn son's life over to brain surgeons seven years ago, fearing little Dallas would never truly enjoy Christmas — or a normal life.

And while Dallas still has some health problems, being a normal kid comes easy these days.

“Every day ... he walks around all the time saying how he wants to be a cop,” his mother said.

Shop With a Cop has eliminated any doubt about the chances of Dallas enjoying Christmas.

The event is in its ninth year of providing a one-day shopping spree to needy students in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. Each cop gets $150 to spend on gifts and Wal-Mart donates coats and other warm clothing for the kids.

Gianna Reynolds-Henderson, 6, of Monroeville had a tough time choosing which doll struck her fancy.

“I like all of them,” Reynolds-Henderson said before zeroing in on her choice. “Oh, this one.”

Gateway Officer Ray Andrekanic sounded a bit relieved as he smiled at the girl.

“All right, we got one,” Andrekanic said. “This is a tough one. I've been doing this for years, and usually the cart is overflowing by now.”

Gateway and Monroeville officers brought four students chosen by social workers at each of the district's elementary schools to Shop With a Cop.

“It's the smile on the kids' faces that I like,” Monroeville Officer Mark Savage said. “Especially knowing they're less fortunate.”

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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