The Shop with a Hero annual event, held on Dec. 20, kicked off with a parade at 10 a.m. on state Route 8 north that ended at Titusville Walmart.
A total of 47 children from Titusville High School, Titusville Middle School, Main Street, Pleasantville, and Hydetown Elementary schools, and the ECLC were chosen. Each child received $100.00 to spend on Christmas presents for their family members. Walmart customers donated an additional $220.00 during the event to be spent on items for a family from within the Titusville Area School District.
The event is organized by Pennsylvania State Trooper Cindy Schick and incorporates heroes from a variety of public services. Police, firefighters, retired veterans and other service personnel stage at a local business in town and meet the kids at Titusville Walmart in a parade, complete with lights and sirens. The kids then get to choose the hero they want to shop with.
“They get to hear them and then they get to see them. Then, they get to pick the hero they want to shop with, so it’s pretty cool,” Schick said.
Some of the heroes who took kids shopping included Pennsylvania State Police from Erie, Meadville, Franklin and Corry; border control officers; Titusville Police Department officers; Pitt Titusville police; Titusville Fire Department firefighters; Hydetown Volunteer Fire Department firefighters; Pleasantville Volunteer Fire Department firefighters; United States Marines; and retired Navy veterans.
Students with the Stand Tall group in Titusville volunteered at the event, wrapping gifts for those who were shopping. The group has also volunteered ringing bells for the Salvation Army as well as a number of other community service events, according to Scott Tenney, the group’s advisor.
“It was a very awesome heart-warming day,” Schick said.
The event is community-driven in sponsorships. The more financial contributions the event receives, the more children from the area are able to be brought in to participate. Over four areas, Titusville was able to bring the largest number of students, even though it is the smallest draw area, according to Schick.
“I just want to say thanks to the community,” she said. “Titusville really stepped up.”
Community sponsors for this year’s event were the American Legion Post #368, Sons of the American Legion, Mike and Ruth Colbert, VFW Post #5958, True Value, Titusville Dairy Products, Titusville Moose Family Center #84, Titusville Motor Company, Titusville Elks Lodge #264, Donovan and Bauer Auto, Titusville Walmart, Robin See and Family, and Karen Murphy and Family.
According to Schick, the event is about allowing first responders and other servicemen and women to be involved in the community in positive ways and allow the kids to have one-on-one interactions with the officials.
Above that, though, it is about making the kids’ day a little brighter on Christmas morning.
“We like to make sure everyone has something under their tree so they know they are going to have something for Christmas,” Schick said.
Brown can be reached, by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.