New Castle News

November 28, 2013

Police gearing up for Shop With a Cop

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Police in Lawrence County are getting ready to go Christmas shopping.

They’re not buying for themselves. They are using thousands of dollars collected from the community to take lesser fortunate children on their annual “Shop With a Cop” spree at Walmart in Union Township.

This year’s event is Dec. 5, and so far, they have amassed $17,000 for the effort with hope that amount will keep growing.

New Castle police officer John George, in charge of organizing this year’s effort,  estimates the funds will buy $125 worth of gifts for each of 100 or more children. The more money that comes in through donations before then will mean that more children could benefit, he said.

The children are chosen to receive the gifts through schools or other human service agencies, based upon their families’ financial need.

 They are paired off with law enforcement or emergency services workers who take them through the store with a shopping cart to select the items they want to buy. Some buy toys. Some choose clothing or warm winter wear. Others in the past have used some of their money to buy gifts for their parents, brothers and sisters.

Participants this year will include officers from all of the police departments in the county, Lawrence County’s district attorney and adult and juvenile probation offices, emergency medical services, fire departments and ambulance services.

“A lot of people donate every year,” George said, adding that this year, Walmart gave $5,000 and another donor, Shirley Phillips, also gave $5,000 on behalf of a memorial fund established for her daughter, Danielle Lee Kennedy, who died in a traffic accident in October of 2006. Her fund also is supported by donations and is used for scholarships and other charities. Danielle would have been 24 years old this year on Dec. 5.

In return, the police have offered to help Phillips locally with her involvement in  the B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) program that provides free advanced driver education for teens. The program nationally was formed by racing star Doug Herbert, who lost his two sons in a traffic accident in 2008.

 George said another $1,500 for Shop With a Cop came from other private donors, and some was left over from last year. The fund also provide money for other youth-related programs, he said.

Anyone who wants to donate to the program may make checks payable to “Shop With a Cop.” They may be dropped off at the New Castle police station or mailed there, to New Castle Police Department, 303 E. North St. , New Castle, Pa., 16101.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)