Shop With A Cop brings smiles, joy to local kids


As officers from several departments lined a hallway at Walmart, Officer Mike Caby from West Caln Police Department meets his first shopper.

13th Annual event pairs local police with kids to brighten holidays

By Lauren Parker-Gill, Staff Writer, The Times

COATESVILLE – Local police officers made quite an entrance when they arrived at the Walmart in Parkesburg Saturday, with two school buses full of 75 children and volunteers, escorted by fire trucks, a police van and police cars, all with lights and sirens, for the 13th annual Shop with a Cop event.

It was as impressive as it sounds; the parade-style procession was nearly 1 mile long and began at Olivet United Methodist Church in Coatesville, where participants gathered for a breakfast with Santa Claus to kick off the festivities.


The “elves” which included officers’ family members and community volunteers were ready and waiting to wrap presents in a back room at Walmart.

Shop with A Cop (SAC) began 13 years ago when Officer Tony Sparano, then with the Coatesville Police Department, was looking for a winter activity for their P.A.L. (The National Police Athletics/Activities Leagues) program. Upon learning about the SAC program, Sparano presented it to the P.A.L. board and in just six weeks, they were able to raise $10,000 and open the program to 65 children.

“The success of the program is a direct result of the numerous agencies, volunteers and donors who not only provide the financial support, but just as importantly, their time in making the experience wonderful for all involved.” Sparano said.

While the success of SAC relies on dozens of community organizations, volunteers and police departments, the Coatesville Police Department also partnered with Hope Beyond Borders and Coatesville Kids to College (CKC).

Ollis described the partnership with CKC, which provides children and families with support through each stage of their children’s development and education, as very important.

“Kids who take their education more seriously are less likely to become victims or offenders, when they get older.” Ollis said.

Children ages 7 – 12 are nominated by their elementary school principals and guidance counselors in the Coatesville Area School District, or by a youth serving program in Coatesville. They may be going through a tough time in their life, or they may stand out for doing something positive.


The 13th Annual Shop with a Cop Event, hosted by the City of Coatesville Police Department was held Saturday at Olivet United Methodist Church and Walmart in Parkesburg.

“You were all nominated because someone saw something special and of value in you,” said Ollis to the 75 children who had gathered that morning.

Upon arriving at Walmart, via two school busses donated by Krapf Busses, children were shown to a break room where volunteers with coloring pages and snacks were ready to keep them company as they waited for their turn to shop.

In previous years, each child was given $100 to spend, this year that was increased to $125, thanks to a 10 percent discount, provided by Walmart. As the police officers were each paired with a child and then began shopping around the store, there was a feeling of excitement and pride in the air. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the officers or the children.

While the children shopped for family members and even themselves, customers who happened to be at Walmart also shopping that day, were so moved by what they were witnessing. After learning about SAC, many wanted to help and several customers, who wished to remain anonymous, made on-the-spot donations. According to Ollis, those donations were turned over to Hope Beyond Borders and will be used for youth programming.

“People in the community are so moved by what they are seeing as we are out in the store shopping. They want to get involved and help,” said Ollis.


City of Coatesville Police Chief Jack Laufer helped Natalie pick out special gifts for her mother, brother and a friend; he then encouraged her to have some fun and shop for herself.

After children finished shopping, there were dozens of “elves” waiting in the back to wrap each gift, and label them with the child’s name and gift tags. They included police officers wives and family members, members of the Coatesville Youth Initiative, Girlfriends Giving Guidance (G3), Witmer Public Safety group and more.

In addition to volunteering that day, Witmer Public Safety Group, located in Coatesville, helped with raising funds by allowing employees to dress down once a week for $1 per person, throughout the year. They also provided a truck with an attached trailer to transport the gifts from Walmart.

After the last child finished shopping and the last gift was wrapped, the children and volunteers boarded the busses and were taken back to Olivet Church. There, they received giant bags, filled with the presents they chose with their police officer.

Among the commotion, one child was overheard saying, “This was the best day ever!”

For more pictures, visit the City of Coatesville Police Department Facebook Page:

The City of Coatesville Police Department would like to thank the following organizations for their support and financial contributions:

The Employees of Witmer Public Safety Group
Jim and Ruth Witmer
West End Fire Co.
City of Coatesville Bureau of Fire
Coatesville Police Benevolence Association
We Kare at Exton KW
Employees of Excelon Power Labs
Hope Beyond Borders
Coatesville Kids to College (Check out the event online)
Krapf’s Bus Company
Walmart Parkesburg

The Coatesville PD also thanks volunteers from the following organizations that helped in a variety of ways, including but not limited to, setting up and serving breakfast at Olivet, chaperoning, providing printed materials, photography, wrapping gifts and working the registers at Walmart:

Lily of the Valley Masonic Lodge
City Of Coatesville – Employees and City Council
Administrators, Teachers and Guidance Councilors of the Coatesville Area School District
Chester County Department of Emergency Services
Safe Kids Chester County
West Chester University Criminal Justice Students
CASD Alumni
Chester County Health Department
Coatesville Youth Initiative

Girlfriends Giving Guidance (G3)

Witmer Public Safety Group
Hope Beyond Borders
Coatesville Kids to College
Officers’ Family Members

The Coatesville PD also extends special thanks to the police officers from the following departments who donated their time to Shop with a Cop:
Valley Township Police Department
Sadsbury Township Police Department
Caln Township Police Department
East Fallowfield Township Police
West Caln Township Police Department
PA State Police

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