Police officers treat kids to shopping sprees during Shop With a Cop
Three-year-old Makenna Shively looked apprehensive at first.
Westmoreland County Sheriff Deputy Bill Lane towered over the girl, who sat in a shopping cart her mother was pushing.
But when Lane told Makenna she could have anything she wanted at the East Huntingdon Wal-Mart on Monday, her nervousness vanished.
"She is a big shopper, apparently," said her mother, Cassie Shively of Mt. Pleasant. "He said, 'Take whatever,' and she took advantage of that."
Makenna took home Play-Doh, markers, a Paw Patrol pillow and other toys during the ninth-annual Westmoreland County Shop With A Cop event. Police in the area took children shopping Monday at the East Huntingdon and Rostraver locations with donations and business sponsorships raised through the program, headed by Trooper Steve Limani.
Shopping sprees are scheduled Tuesday in Latrobe and Hempfield and Wednesday in Delmont and North Huntingdon.
Officers from several local departments and state troopers walked around the store Monday with more than 20 children and teenagers in search of the perfect items. Each participant had $150 to spend, and Wal-Mart donated winter coats and other warm clothing.
In one group, Trooper Adam Janosko was left in the dust while his 11-year-old daughter, Jordyn, took over.
"Which one of you likes makeup?" Jordyn, a sixth-grader at Elizabeth Forward, asked three girls whom Janosko brought to the event.
The girls darted around the store, grabbing backpacks, paper tablets, stuffed animals and Elmer's glue for making fluffy slime.
"My children, personally, are spoiled, so I don't think they know how good they have it," Janosko said while trying to keep up with the group. "It's a good opportunity. It helps the public in general know we don't just answer calls."
Program participants can be nominated by area police officers. Some of the children are victims of a crime or other circumstances. Mt. Pleasant Police Department brought five children Monday who were recommended by Frock Childcare, said Chief Doug Sam. One of the boys loaded up his cart with a play tool belt, boots and blocks, among other toys.
"We picked all young kids this year," Sam said.
Two-year-old Charlee Darrell clutched a baby doll in one aisle while Mt. Pleasant Officer Kasey Lynn held her. Elsewhere in the store, Cpl. Matt Hartman led a teen girl toward nail care products.
Heather Oatman of Monongahela watched as her two daughters and two sons, ages 5 to 14, took off. They were excited about the prospect of a shopping spree, she said.
"I told them anything they want," Oatman said. "It's really nice. There's still people out there that care to help."
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @byrenatta.