Main menu


Police, kids talk toys at Hempfield Shop With a Cop event

featured image

Five-year-old Harmony Derry got off to a flying start, heading straight for the toy aisle at the Hempfield Walmart on Monday.

State Police Captain Jen Shipley followed close behind, pushing a cart that soon filled with dolls, toys, and a small kitchen set. Shipley personally signed up Derry and her three siblings for the Westmoreland County Shop With a Cop event.

“This is something that’s so different from our daily schedules at work,” Shipley said. “That’s why we’re all so excited to be here.”

Founded over 10 years ago by Trooper Steve Limani, The Shop with a Cop nonprofit helps local children involved in a crime or other unfortunate circumstance throughout the year with a holiday shopping experience. Children can be selected to participate by police officers, counselors, teachers or community members.

After raising money for the annual event all year, each participating child is allocated $150 to spend and given free rein to buy whatever they want. Walmart usually donates a winter coat and other items, Limani said.

On Monday morning, cars filled designated parking spaces outside the store, and officers asked parents to wait in their vehicles while children were matched with officers for shopping. Once the couples had a cart, the purchasing began.

Some Walmart shoppers unrelated to the event joined in the fun by helping kids reach toys on higher shelves and talking to them about the holiday season. The aisles were filled with excited children and officers.

“It’s not even about the gifts,” Limani said. “It’s about everyone smiling and happy to be here.”

When each child reached their spending limit, officers asked if they had any winter clothes left at home. If the child answered no, they were allowed to choose their own coat, gloves and hat.

Every year, Limani teams up with Walmart to host the event, which he described as “organized chaos.”

“This day, the shopping day, is the good kind of chaos,” said Limani. “The hardest part of all of this is raising money. We usually host a few fundraisers throughout the year. One of them is our gun bash and next year we’re going to have a gala at the Greensburg Country Club.

The organization also hosts an annual golf outing at Champion Lakes and an ugly sweater party. Members started a street sign campaign during the covid restrictions so that donors could sponsor a child.

“What’s really exciting is that year after year, we see the same troopers faces coming back to the store and we’re starting to get to know them,” says Carol Williams, manager of Hempfield Walmart. “It’s so nice to see them shopping with the kids and the fact that they want to come back every year and do it. It is awesome.”

Limani emphasized that Shop With a Cop also creates a positive experience between police officers and children.

“We’re different in the way we let the kids shop physically,” said Limani. “We talk to them and get to know them. Everyone has a smile on their face. I believe in giving back and I’m lucky to have colleagues who also believe in giving back.”

Haley Daugherty is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Haley at 724-850-1203 or