Shop with a Cop moves to Elkton in 7th year
ELKTON — It’s never too early to think about Christmas, especially when you’re partnering up with Shop with a Cop, a festive nonprofit focused on giving children a memorable Christmas with a personal shopping spree.
Maryland State Police Capt. James Russell, president of SWAC Cecil County, announced at Wednesday’s town meeting that the nonprofit would move from its traditional location in North East to Elkton for its seventh year. A scheduling conflict prevented the organization from working out of the North East Fire Company station per tradition.
With support of the Elkton Mayor and Board of Commissioners, Shop with a Cop will be held out of Singerly Volunteer Fire Company’s station on Newark Avenue and the Elkton Walmart off U.S. Route 40 on Dec. 15.
This year, Russell said the goal is to choose 100 children, between ages 2 and 12, out of the 250 who have applied. Children are referred to SWAC Cecil County by the Department of Children’s Services and guidance counselors at elementary schools.
“It’s a tough selection process, and I say tough because you want to help all of the children,” Russell told the commissioners. “We try to select children from Perryville, Chesapeake City, Conowingo, Rising Sun, Elkton, North East and Charlestown. The entire county will be brought together here in the county seat.”
Shop with a Cop traditionally starts with the young participants being chauffeured by their assigned police officer and volunteer in a cop car to the Walmart, complete with flashing lights and loud sirens. From there, the kids go through the Walmart and choose clothes, toys and other gifts. The shopping spree is paid through fundraising efforts from SWAC Cecil County.
Afterwards, families head back to the firehouse where their purchases will be wrapped by volunteers. In the meantime, families enjoy a catered lunch while the children meet Santa Claus.
SWAC Cecil County has already coordinated with Singerly Volunteer Fire Company and Walmart management, but sought help with traffic control for the “marathon parade of cars going through the town,” as SWAC Cecil County board member Ed Ginder put it.
The planned route from the fire station is North Street to Main Street, right onto Delaware Avenue and out to Route 40. In addition to having police personnel at each interactions to direct traffic, Russell hoped for billboards to alert residents well before the event.
“We have over 90 law enforcement officers throughout the county escorting the children,” he said. “When we’re running lights and sirens through there, the [state police] barracks and the sheriff’s office get a lot of calls of people panicking.”
Bill Coutz, who attended the Shop with a Cop event in 2017 and is a current board member, also vouched for SWAC Cecil County as an event that is “professionally run” and considers “safety first.”
“These gentlemen have figured out this process and have it down to a science,” he said. “You won’t see a happier 100 kids any day of the year than that day. If nothing else, be out there and watch it happen. You’ll feel awfully good.”
Mayor Rob Alt said the town would be delighted to host Shop with a Cop, and asked the Elkton Chamber & Alliance and Elkton Police Department to coordinate with them. He did make one suggestion.
“I’d like to see you come through Hermitage Drive on the way so I can be out there waving,” said the mayor, who lives on that street.
Maryland State Police Capt. James Russell, right, speaks passionately about Shop with a Cop to town officials as SWAC Cecil County board member Ed Ginder looks on.