MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Penn State Harrisburg men's basketball players and coaches joined Middletown Police Detective Adam Tankersley and Penn State Harrisburg Police Officer Phil Peng to treat 20 local children to a holiday shopping spree at Ollie's Bargain Outlet in Harrisburg for the second annual Shop with a Cop and Penn State Harrisburg Player event.
"What began as a request from Detective Tankersley two years ago has grown into this wonderful event thanks to the great teamwork from all involved," said Don Friday, Penn State Harrisburg men’s basketball coach, when describing the initiative's genesis. "Detective Tankersley challenged Penn State Harrisburg's men's basketball student-athletes to help him make a difference in the community back in 2020 and for the second year in a row, we all delivered. I want to thank everyone involved for making this possible."
Friday was joined by all 17 Penn State Harrisburg players, assistant coach Connor Markulec, Tankersley, and Peng in accompanying 20 school children from Middletown and Steelton-Highspire during their shopping sprees. In addition to helping the children select their gifts, the student-athletes and policemen used their time together as a mentoring opportunity.
"In the past, we've worked with the high school [basketball] programs at Middletown and Steel-High to recruit student-athletes to compete on the court," said Friday. "More recently, this relationship has grown under the energy of Steel-High head coach Tristan Crawford and Middletown head coach Chris Bradford to impact young people in the communities they represent well beyond the sports arena."
The event was made possible by a charitable gift from Enterprise Holdings of Central Pennsylvania and the efforts of Penn State Harrisburg assistant coach Anthony Morgan, graduate of the class of 2016, as well as a matching gift from Ollie's Bargain Outlet Executive Leadership, while Bradford and Crawford helped organize the children's arrival to Ollie's from their respective school districts.
Friday noted that since its inception, the goal of the outing has been to spread holiday joy for children of under-resourced families and serve as "possibility models" for the children's post-high school futures in hopes that they excel as people, students, and athletes at the four-year college, trade school, and community college levels. Tankersley continues to share his passion for helping children in local communities and has been an ally of Penn State Harrisburg's men's basketball program, serving as a mentor in recent years.