Giving spirit of ‘Shop with a Cop’ crosses generations

State, county, local police help area children get into spirit of giving

By Kyle CarrozzaStaff Writer, The Times


Coatesville Police Lt. James Audette plays Christmas songs on the saxophone before heading out to Wal-Mart in Parkesburg with needy kids from around Chester County as part of the “Shop With a Cop” program earlier this month.

PARKESBURG – From the classics like Barbies and Ninja Turtles to the newest iPads and video games, the newest clothes to in-depth discussions on which current wrestlers the Rock could take, Shop with a Cop allowed needy 65 Chester County kids to cross generational boundaries and complete their Christmas shopping with the assistance of a law enforcement officer on Saturday.

Coatesville, South Coatesville, Valley, West Caln, East Fallowfield, West Sadsbury, West Brandywine, Caln Township, Chester County Sheriffs, and the State Police departments linked up with Witmer Public Safety Group, Hope Beyond Borders, Coatesville kids to College, the West End Fire Company, and Krapf Buses to provide $100 for each child to spend on gifts.

The group rolled up to the Parkesburg WalMart in force with a group of police cars and firetrucks.

“It was one of my favorite things, seeing the kids happy, coming in the convoy of police cars and shopping with everybody,” said Cpl. Suzanne Campos of the Chester County Sheriffs Department.

In charge of slightly less glamorous vehicles, Coatesville city council members Linda Lavender Norris, Marie Lawson, and Ed Simpson helped wrangle carts for the shoppers.

Officers helped to check prices and offer the occasional opinion about the season’s best DVDs as the kids loaded their carts with a variety of items. Some headed straight for the expensive tablets and electronics while other children displayed budgeting skills that municipal governments would envy, stretching $100 into over 20 items. One West Caln police officer helped in those efforts, making sure to take his shopping partners into the candy aisle last to use up every dollar available.

But some children, with adult-sized jackets and flower vases, had slightly stranger purchases considering their age. These children were not just shopping for themselves but buying for friends and family as well. At least two children spent their entire budgets on others.

“I got stuff for my sister, cousin, video games for my uncle, and stuff for the girl I like. I spent all the money on other people,” said one Octarara student.

Many of the adults took notice of these gestures, between the officers who helped shop, their family members who helped wrap the gifts along with Chester County Highway Safety, the Safe Kids Coalition, Coatesville Area School District staff, and the Coatesville Youth Initiative.

“I liked seeing the little children’s faces light up and that they were buying for the rest of their family members. It wasn’t all about them; they still wanted to give,” said Deputy Natalie Berry from the Chester County Sheriffs Department.

Many of the officers said that Saturday’s event was important to help reinforce a positive relationship between law enforcement and the community.

“Especially with everything that’s going on in the media today, we need the kids to have a positive influence,” said State Trooper Waleska Gonzalez. “I also believe that it takes a village to raise a kid, and I’ve always lived by that.”

After the day of shopping, the kids’ presents were wrapped and loaded into a trailer. They were then handed out behind Olivet United Methodist with Jim Witmer and Sgt. Rodger Ollis playing the part of smaller but just as jolly Santa Clauses.

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