Coatesville, PA: Witmer Public Safety Group (WPSG), Inc.’s participation in the City of Coatesville Police Dept.’s annual Shop with a Cop (SWAC) program is set for Dec. 9 at the Walmart in Parkesburg, PA.
Launched in 2003, the event is spearheaded by Sgt. Roger Ollis. Its purpose is to foster positive relationships between Coatesville youth and police officers, with the officers volunteering their time to provide assistance to the youth while they shop for presents. WPSG, Inc.’s involvement in the program began in December 2004 in the form of an annual donation.
In 2008, WPSG, Inc. employees began contributing $2 per week to wear jeans to work on Fridays, with all funds, plus an ownership match, going to the SWAC initiative. “It started small the first year, but by 2009 we were giving $10,000 in support of the program,” said WPSG, Inc. President Ruth Witmer. “We have increased our donation every year since that point.”
During this year’s Shop with a Cop event, the Parkesburg Walmart has agreed to give a 10% discount on all purchases. This allows each child more money to spend than in previous years.
“As prices increased, we felt a need to enhance the amount each child could spend,” Witmer said. “$100 was the original limit, so we asked the police department to increase that amount to $125 per child plus the discount given.”
The Shop With a Cop event begins at 9 a.m. at the Olivet Methodist Church in Coatesville. This year’s 65 or more participating children will have the option to get their pictures taken with Santa Claus and enjoy a breakfast with their parents. Then, the children are loaded into donated Kraft buses and driven through the city to the Walmart with a police escort, complete with lights and sirens.
After arriving, photos will be taken with the police officers, their families, and the many volunteers who have chosen to participate. Along with providing t-shirts for all volunteers, WPSG, Inc. will adorn the buses with banners so that the community is fully aware of the event.
“These volunteers entertain and manage the children as they await their turns to shop with the officers, who are generously volunteering their free time to participate,” Witmer said. “Additionally, there are volunteers that wrap all the presents the children select for themselves and their loved ones.”
WPSG, Inc. will transport all the wrapped presents back to the Olivet Methodist Church in order to distribute them to the children at approximately 1 p.m.
Due to the popularity of the Shop with a Cop event and “Jeans Friday”, WPSG, Inc. was able to give a much larger gift last year that not only benefitted the event, but also the “Coatesville Kids to College” program, which is run by a non-profit organization, Hope Beyond Borders. In addition to sending volunteers to assist with the Shop with a Cop event, the organization’s program helps Coatesville youth in the city get a good education so that they may one day attend college.
“We are just very privileged to have wonderful employees who are willing to participate in our ‘Jeans Friday’ program so that these children can have a wonderful Christmas with their families,” Witmer said. “The Shop with a Cop event really sets off the holiday season in each of our hearts.”
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