Shop with a Cop moves to Elk­ton in 7th year

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By KATIE TABELING kta­bel­ing@ce­cil­whig.com

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

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.

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