Officer Bruce Gentry and Angelina Gladden, 10, of Troy, shop for presents at the Walmart store on Maple Road during Shop with a Cop Dec. 4.

Officer Bruce Gentry and Angelina Gladden, 10, of Troy, shop for presents at the Walmart store on Maple Road during Shop with a Cop Dec. 4.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Kids shop with Troy cops

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published December 11, 2018

 Alex Batistoni, 9, of Troy, discusses his gift purchases with Troy Police Chief Frank Nastasi at the Walmart store on Maple Road during Shop with a Cop Dec. 4.

Alex Batistoni, 9, of Troy, discusses his gift purchases with Troy Police Chief Frank Nastasi at the Walmart store on Maple Road during Shop with a Cop Dec. 4.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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TROY — This is the second year that Troy Union Elementary School students Makaela, 10; Alexander, 9; and Kylee Batistoni, 7, have shopped with a cop for Christmas presents at the Walmart store on Maple Road in Troy.

“We’re blessed,” said their mother, Pamela Batistoni. “It brings you to tears.”

She said that while the family is doing OK financially, the children don’t know what it’s like to have extras.

“To walk around with a cop, they think they are the most special people in the world,” she said.

Pamela Batistoni explained that she was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago at age 35, when she was still breastfeeding Kylee. There was no family history of breast cancer.

She is now cancer-free.

“I’m blessed to be here,” she said, adding that she racked up a lot of medical bills — a challenge for the parents of six children.

She and husband Michael are “real close to paying off the medical bills,” she said as her oldest daughter cautioned her not to look in the cart as Makaela and a Troy police officer wheeled it past Pamela to the gift wrap station.

The Troy Police Department obtained the names of the children for its Shop with a Cop program from social workers and principals at schools in the Troy School District and from local churches.

Officer Lisa Rockafellow, of the Troy Police Department, said that 25 children who live in Troy participated in Shop with a Cop this year.

The event is designed to allow disadvantaged children to purchase holiday gifts and to interact positively with local police.

Each child may make up to $100 in purchases, courtesy of Walmart. Granite City Food & Brewery donated boxed dinners for the event, and PetSmart and Petco donated stuffed animals.

Conrad Guzman, a volunteer with the Troy Citizen Patrol Volunteers, was one of the volunteers on hand to wrap the children’s gifts.

Guzman, a retired teacher and principal in the Bloomfield Hills Schools district, said he volunteers his time for Shop with a Cop because of his “connection to these kids. I’m so happy the police are willing to share their time and resources.”

“It’s a great program,” Pamela Batistoni said.

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