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Westmoreland

Preschoolers in Unity donate $1,000 in pennies to Shop with a Cop

Paul Peirce
| Monday, May 7, 2018, 11:21 a.m.

The penny donation jar at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church preschool got a lot of use this year from the 3- to 5-year olds who attend the Unity Township facility.

On Monday, the students donated $1,000 collected in the penny jar since September to the Westmoreland County Shop With a Cop program, which enables about 300 disadvantaged youths each year to be paired with a police officer to go Christmas shopping.

“Isn't this remarkable the children were able to raise this much?” said school director Tina Schmitt. “Every day they come in and throw pennies into the jar, and when it fills we count it out, deposit it at the bank and then refill it. The kids have enjoyed it.”

Schmitt said the donation jar is aimed at teaching children ways to give back to their communities.

All 83 children enrolled in the school took part at one time or another, but some took it to heart — such as 4-year-old Lincoln Mikeska of the Latrobe area, who dropped in pennies every day, Schmitt said.

“I like to give back. It makes me feel good,” Mikeska said.

State police Trooper Stephen Limani, who spearheads the local program, was on hand to thank the children for their commitment and generosity. He said the program, which just finished its ninth year, wouldn't exist without the generosity of the community.

“All of you did a fantastic job,” Limani said after joining the children for the Pledge of Allegiance. “With all of the pennies and change you have saved, we're going to be able to take little kids that don't always get to have a nice Christmas ... they'll get to go Christmas shopping when it comes time.

“All of your hard work helped people who sometimes are unable to help themselves,” he said.

After accepting the check presentation from Mikeska and Camille Barchetti, 4, Limani took all the children out into the parking lot where they had an opportunity to be photographed in a patrol car and work its siren.

Additional donations to Shop With a Cop can be sent to the state police barracks at 100 N. Westmoreland Ave., Greensburg, PA 15601.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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