Alle-Kiski Valley children get to Shop with a Cop
Police and state troopers in the Alle-Kiski Valley are showing Christmas spirit this week, and their smiles may last well into next week.
On Wednesday, 16 boys and girls — from 2 to teenagers — accompanied a half-dozen off-duty officers for the Shop with a Cop program at the Delmont Wal-Mart.
The 16 bubbly children who met at the Arnold police station were among 250 to 300 youngsters who took part in shopping sprees at six of the stores across the region this week.
Steve Limani and other troopers raised $40,000 this year to make the fifth annual Shop With a Cop possible.
“This is all from a state police program,” Arnold police Officer Shannon Santucci Davis said. “We are just helping.”
Each child was given $150 to go on the shopping spree.
“You can spend it on anything except a coat, hat and gloves. Walmart is donating those. And no electronics,” Davis said while the kids enjoyed doughnuts and milk and waited for a school bus to arrive.
Some of the youths have seen tough times, which required police intervention. Other families are having money challenges, while tragedy has touched some.
It was time for parents and officers to see the magic of a young child's smile, giggle and laugh.
Noah and Nathan Carvin's mother died of leukemia about a year ago. The 8-year-old Lower Burrell twins enjoy soccer, hockey and most other sports.
“I am. I am,” each cheerfully replied, putting up their arms when asked who was the better athlete.
They were looking forward to the trip. And shopping.
“Their dad and I are like brothers, and I could help today,” said family friend Darren Boggs.
“This is a blessing,” said Janay Leonard of New Kensington, accompanied by her two sons, ages 2 and 3.
“This is awesome,” agreed Gerry Dargan, also of New Kensington, who attended with two grandchildren. “I'm ready to cry.”
Single parent Nicole Fiedor of Arnold said the event comes at a wonderful time. She accompanied her profoundly disabled son, Seth, 9, and his brother, Brandon, 12.
Seth, who has cerebral palsy, is a quadriplegic who also has chronic lung disease, asthma. He can hear only with the aid of cochlear implants.
Fiedor said her income was reduced this year when she stayed with Seth while he was hospitalized for two months. The gifts and clothing will help.
Fiedor is also hoping her Habitat for Humanity house in Arnold can be finished Saturday in time to get the required occupancy permit.
“It would be great if we could get in before Christmas,” she said.
Several police chiefs and officers rode the W.L. Roenigk bus with the children.
“It's great to do something for the children,” said Lower Burrell Chief Tim Weitzel.
“It opens the doors with the families, and they see officers are people, too,” said Upper Burrell Sgt. Robert Speer.
“Some kids are afraid of police,” said Arnold Chief Willie Weber. “We have officers here in uniform to show they (children) shouldn't be afraid. And every one of the officers are off-duty. They are doing this because they really care.”
Limani said most of the Shop with a Cop money came from a September golf outing. This year a motorcycle club held a run to raise $5,000, said Limani, who is based at troop headquarters in Greensburg.
About 100 more youngsters took part in the shopping sprees this year than a year ago. The program attracted troopers from Uniontown and elsewhere in addition to the A-K Valley and Greensburg.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.