Children Christmas Shop with Help From a Cop

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HAZLE TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Dozens of state troopers filled the Walmart in Hazle Township but it wasn't for any sort of emergency.

Instead, it was all to spread a little Christmas cheer.

"We teamed up with Walmart and the Hazleton Integration Project and basically, troopers are going to be shopping with kids today," said Trooper Anthony Petroski.

Shop with a Cop is a grant program through Walmart that allows troopers to spend some quality time with kids in the community and teach them about giving back.

"They have a chance to buy something for their family which is the main purpose. So they learn about giving and not just receiving," said Ben Medina.

Troopers hope this program will help children feel more comfortable approaching law enforcement.

"They don't always see us, they don't always get to talk to us. If they do see us we're on the side of the road having somebody pulled over or maybe they know a victim of a crime. It's not always a positive image. This is a chance for us to just talk with them, interact and show them that we're more than just a uniform," said Trooper Petroski.

Trooper Anthony Petroski's concerns are valid. Kids say seeing this many troopers at once makes them uneasy.

"It makes me nervous because like, they're state troopers and I know one of them but it feels weird to me that there's all of them," said Tanaisha Williams of Hazleton.

Newswatch 16 heard from many children that attended the event that seeing the troopers made them a little nervous at first but now that they've shopped with them and interacted with them one on one, they feel more comfortable talking with troopers.

"I feel fine. I feel safe cause he's a cop. I was scared but now I'm just like 'oh, they're just like me, like people' so I'm fine with them now," said Jadey Mercedes of Hazleton.

This is the second annual Shop with a Cop near Hazleton and the troopers and families hope the tradition continues for years to come to bring the community closer together.

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