'Shop with a Cop' in Scott Township an annual tradition
Police cars lined the front of the Scott Township Walmart on Friday morning, as shoppers stopped and wondered just what had happened inside.
No, there wasn’t a burglary at the store that brought the 15 officers from Collier, Scott and Bridgeville to the store. They were there to shop alongside some of their pals from Chartiers Valley for supplies to be used inside the district’s Life Skills program.
“Do you need more? Go get it,” Bill Oslick, a school resource officer with Collier police who is stationed at Chartiers Valley High School, told Life Skills teacher Buffie Faes.
The Shop with a Cop program, in its eighth year, brings together officers from the three departments and Life Skills students at Chartiers Valley to buy classroom supplies such as paper towels, hand wipes and toys that will last the entire year.
The Life Skills students get to practice shopping while hanging out with a police officer who guides them through the store. This year, students who are part of the Best Buddies program at the high school came to help their Life Skills peers tackle the shopping.
The idea for the program started nearly a decade ago when Oslick helped Faes with the district’s Life Skills prom.
When he began working in the middle school and high school as a school resource officer, he formed a special bond with the Life Skills students and wanted to do more for them.
The funding for the classroom supplies comes from the Collier Township Police Association and Scott Township Police Association. The Collier Township Police Association holds an annual sporting clay shoot fundraiser that brings in money for this and other community donations, Oslick said.
This year, they purchased $1,350 in supplies.
But it’s about more than the supplies. It’s about the interactions.
“It just really is an enjoyable time, and you can see what kind of fun we have with the kids,” Oslick said. “They see that we’re regular people and that we’re just doing a job that involves our community.”
Cameron, a sixth-grade Life Skills student at Chartiers Valley Middle School, smiled as he looked over his shopping list at the front of the store.
He grabbed a shopping cart. It was time to buy a vacuum.
“I want a blue one!” he said with excitement.
Scott Township police Sgt. Jeff Skees led Cameron and two other Life Skills students around the store, while their best buddies helped gather the supplies.
After searching, Cameron found the perfect blue vacuum, which he decided to carry, at least for a few aisles.
“It’s heavy,” he said, wiping his brow as he finally put it down.
“You’re the strongest man I know,” said Ashton Franks, 17, a senior and member of the Best Buddy program.
The day focuses on the students in the Life Skills program “and the joys they get from these little tiny things that we take for granted,” Faes said.
As Ed Povirk, a school resource officer from Scott Township who is stationed at the intermediate school, walked through the aisles, a freshman ran up and hugged him.
“How are you? Are you doing OK?” Povirk asked as they embraced. “You miss us at the intermediate school?”
After finishing their shopping, students boarded Port Authority’s “Holiday Bus,” which they called “the party bus,” that had a made a special stop for them. It took them to a party with Santa at the Collier Community Center.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributor.