New Castle News

December 6, 2012

Photo Gallery, Story: Children elated to ‘Shop With a Cop’

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — For some children, a simple pair of winter boots can make a merry Christmas.

Bethany Hice of Volant received a phone call Tuesday night that her son, Jacob, 7, had been chosen from New Wilmington Elementary School for the annual “Shop With a Cop.”

“They said they heard our family had needs,” she explained. “It was quite a surprise. It’s like having Christmas angels.”

Police officers, firefighters and others gathered at Wal-Mart Wednesday to treat about 80 underprivileged children to shopping for clothes, toys and needs.

Each child received a store gift card of $125.

The recipients were chosen by local schools, based on their family’s financial situations, explained New Castle policeman Terry Dolquist, who had organized the event.

Jacob’s father is out of work and no longer gets unemployment compensation, his mother explained. She works part-time at Kmart in Hermitage. They have no health insurance.

“That’s why they called me,” she said. “It was like a godsend. He’s been pretty excited all day.”

Jacob was paired with New Castle policeman Aaron Vitale, who escorted him through the store and helped him select items from his wish list.

The sandy-haired boy picked out black boots with sturdy treads.

“I could hold onto these all day,” he told his mother. He hung them around his neck by the drawstrings and danced in the aisle.

“We live in the middle of nowhere, so it’s important that he has boots,” his mother said.

He chose a camouflage hat and a pair of black gloves, then it was off to the toys.

A fortune cookie-making machine he had wanted for months was one of his picks, along with Power Rangers toys, a Alien Autopsy set and Flarp, a gooey substance that makes loud noises.

Michael Ritenour of 304 Friendship St. also was thankful his children got to go shopping. He was with his daughter, Kristina Ritenour, 6, and stepson, Hunter Wyant, 8.

“They said her name was one of six drawn at school,” Ritenour said of his daughter.

Among the toys in their buggies were two stuffed horses for Kristina.

“She wanted those so bad,” her father said.

Shop With a Cop is supported by community donations and a contribution from Wal-Mart.

Dolquist noted the total raised this year was $11,250. Another $2,000 or $3,000 will go to help children through Lawrence County Children and Youth Services, he said.

Other shoppers also were excited about Shop With a Cop when they learned why the police were in the store.

“One lady with tears in her eyes went up to a child and gave the kid $100 extra,” Dolquist said.

Dave Walker, Wal-Mart manager, said the event started 13 years ago in New Castle and is the largest of its kind. Wal-Marts in other states have Shop With a Cop, but “I’ve never been to one this big, supporting this many children,” he said.

Ritenour, stuck in a jam of carts in the toy department, said he is off work on disability, and his wife, Caroline, is on Social Security.

“I really didn’t know how I was going to afford Christmas this year,” he said. “It seems like a message from God, I’ll tell you. This is something these children will remember all their lives.”