DUNMORE - A nine year old girl from Greentown voluntarily asked that her birthday gifts this March be monetary- so she could give it all to the PA State Police Troop R Camp Cadet program.
Taylor Mercereau, a third grader at Wallenpaupack South Elementary School, was with family April 4th when she made the presentation to the State Police at the Troop R headquarters in Dunmore.
“Taylor raised an incredible $415 and the State Police are honored to receive such a wonderful donation,” said Trooper Mark Keyes, spokesman for Troop R and Director of Troop R Camp Cadet.
Her birthday was March 20. She asked for the donations for the camp from friends, as a means to honor her great uncle she never knew, Trooper John Welsch, who was killed in the line of duty September 13, 1977.
Her mother, Jennifer Mercereau, said that she was five when her uncle was shot and killed investigating a domestic dispute. Trooper Welsch, was was from Archbald, was stationed at Troop F, Montoursville at the time.
For years, the family has traveled to Mansfield, Pa. which is part of Troop F, to help in making a presentation of an award to a student in the Camp Cadet program in that area. The award is in Trooper Welsch’s memory.
Mrs. Mercereau said it was only a coincidence that her daughter’s gift was made on the same day that the trial started in Milford, Pa. for Eric Frein, charged in the killing of Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II and attempted murder of Trooper Alex Douglass, at the Blooming Grove barracks in 2014.
Nevertheless, she noted that it was excellent timing, given the need to support the State Police in this difficult time. A huge wave of goodwill towards PA State Police across northeastern Pennsylvania was experienced in the aftermath of the attack at Blooming Grove, during the 48 days it took to capture Frein.
“The impact is life long,” she said, remarking the tragedy is something the families never really get over. In her case, she recalls as a little girl, the grief her family endured when news was brought home to her aunt that her uncle had been shot and killed in the line of duty.
“She’s a good girl,” her mother sad. “Taylor has a big heart.” For the last few years, Taylor has been doing something similar for her birthday, asking donations for some cause in lieu of gifts. Despite this, her mother added, at the birthday party this year, some of her friends gave her small gifts just for her, along with a monetary gift for the Camp Cadet program.
Taylor also created a presentation check which was used in the photograph with her and the State Police officials. Taylor’s sister Lauren was also in the picture. The girls are the daughters of Jennifer and Michael Mercereau.
Troop R Camp Cadet is a week long, free overnight camp that includes boys and girls 12 through 15 year of age from Pike, Wayne, Susquehanna and Lackawanna counties. Donations go to pay directly for all camp expenses.
The camp is held at various locations throughout the State and staffed by Troopers, local police officers and many other volunteers. The goal of Camp Cadet is to introduce participants to the diverse criminal justice system and establish a positive relationship with law enforcement personnel.
Camp Cadet is open to all youth and is structured similar to training at the police academy. All participants who attend camp cadet are addressed as “Cadet” during the week. Cadets are required to participate in all scheduled events. The camp focuses on discipline, self-esteem, teamwork, drug and alcohol education, violence prevention and many other issues facing today’s youth.
This year, Troop R Camp Cadet will be held July 23-28 at Maywood University in Scranton.
For more information on Camp Cadet, visit www.trooprcampcadet.com.