Children get police escorts for shopping excursion
Officers, youth team up for holiday spending spree
People came running to watch as dozens of police cars, their lights flashing and sirens blaring, pulled into the Waldorf Walmart’s parking lot. Police car doors opened and more than 75 children, accompanied by officers, went on an expenses-paid shopping trip.
“It’s the highlight of the year for many of us,” said Charles County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Diane Richardson. “The children are always so excited.”
This is the ninth year the Charles County Sheriff’s Office has held “Shop with a Cop,” said PFC Col- by Shaw, one of the orga- nizers of the event.
The 76 children participating are chosen based on need and recommended by Charles County Public Schools, the Charles County Children’s Aid Society, social service agencies and individual officers.
Richardson said each child received a $200 budget. Funds were used to buy winter clothing necessities as well as presents
for family members and themselves.
“A lot of [the] time, the kids will get things for their siblings, for their par- ents, and they won’t really care about getting things for themselves — they just want to help out oth- ers, which is nice,” Shaw said.
Money comes from fundraisers “Shop with a Cop” holds throughout the year, Shaw said.
In addition to sheriff’s officers, Maryland State Police, La Plata police, Maryland Transit Authority and corrections officers from the sheriff’s office also took part in the “Shop with a Cop” program, Shaw said.
Shaw noted that officers volunteered to escort chil- dren for the day on their own time.
“It’s really all about the kids, and the officers,” Shaw said. “The kids get to ride around in a police car, and who doesn’t want to ride around in a police car, with lights and sirens? Even the adults want to do it.”
Shaw said “Shop with a Cop” gives police a chance to present another side to the community.
“It lets kids know that police officers aren’t just here to take people to jail. We’re here to care about them, we’re here to help them, and it’s just a little something we can do to help make their holiday a little better,” Shaw said. “The kids really enjoy it, but the officers enjoy it just as much. We have officers who have done it ev- ery year since we started.”
Walmart department manager Christina Starcher said the store has played host to the program since its inception.
“We love being involved in the community, and it’s a good thing for our employees to see what a wonderful job the officers do, especially in this day and age, with so much bad news, to know that there are still a lot of good guys out there,” Starcher said.
After their shopping trip, children were brought to the Waldorf Elks Lodge hall, where they were treated to a lunch party while they had their presents wrapped.
“It’s amazing,” Alyssa Parrett, 9, said of the event. “The best part so far is me standing next to police that I’ve never seen before.”
Alyssa Garrison, 7, shopped for family presents. “The best part is the shopping,” Garrison said, adding that turning on the sirens in the police cruiser was also the best part.
MTA Sgt. Aileen Pratt said her favorite moment was “just seeing the smile on the kids’ faces, the joy of being able to give back to the community.”
STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU Police escort their young shoppers into the Waldorf Walmart for Saturday’s “Shop with a Cop” event.
Charles County Sheriff’s Officer Mike Hancock shops with Brandon Robinson in the clothing section at the Waldorf Walmart during Saturday’s “Shop with a Cop.”
Pillar Dyson, 12, center, shops for necklaces in the Waldorf Walmart jewelry department with Charles County Sheriff’s Officer J. Squriewell during Saturday during “Shop with a Cop.”
Police cars pull into the parking lot of the Waldorf Walmart for Saturday’s ninth annual “Shop with a Cop” event.
Maryland Transit Authority Sergeant Aileen Pratt shops with Alyssa Garrison, 7, during “Shop with a Cop” at the Waldorf Walmart Saturday.
Charles County Sheriff’s Officer Chris Becker tries a hat on shopping partner Brian Harley, 10, at the Waldorf Walmart during Saturday’s “Shop with a Cop.”
Charles County Sheriff’s Officer John Micklus helps Alyssa Parrett, 9, shop for pajamas at the Waldorf Walmart during Saturday’s “Shop with a Cop.”
La Plata Police Detective Robert Nielsen helps Jamal Revels, 10, shop for toys at the Waldorf Walmart during Saturday’s “Shop with a Cop.”