The Harrisburg Police Athletic League is on a mission to mentor young minds by pairing officers with 8 to 17-year-olds who find common ground through sports and activities.
“We build the relationships between our children, the kids that come to PAL and law enforcement agencies. That’s the crucial part in hopes that, later on down the road, it will reduce crime and recidivism,” Harrisburg PAL board chairman Dr. Charles E. Stuart said.
Officers involved say the bonding is making a difference.
“Every connection we have made with PAL, those connections have stayed intact,” police Sgt. Russell Winder said. “We have been able to freely go up and just talk and greet one another.”
There are fun activities, including fishing with law enforcement.
“I’ve been involved with PAL for a long time, since I was 8, and now I’m 13,” HPAL kid Jayant Bullett said. “Every year since I was 8, we would come out here and fish.”
The PAL kids also Shop with a Cop at Walmart in Harrisburg, buying holiday presents for their families. There’s a basketball team and a trophy-winning baseball team.
To cover the financial bases, the police athletic league relies on grants and fundraising events like its upcoming Dancing With the Stars of Harrisburg Gala, which included community dancers from Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center, Walmart, and Member’s 1st.
“I think we will feel very ready to go and I’m just looking forward to seeing what everyone has to offer,” said Peter Megoulas, of Members 1st.
Local law enforcement from Harrisburg, Lower Paxton Township, and Swatara Township will hit the dance floor for the Sept. 14 event featuring silent and live auctions.
All that hard work will pay off.
“The best thing about it is it goes toward our kids in the community to better themselves,” Stuart said.
To get tickets for this year’s gala at the Hilton Harrisburg, go to https://harrisburgpal.org/gala-registration/.