Saturday’s Shop with a Cop a Success at Walmart and Outback

On Saturday, dozens of deserving kids got the opportunity to “Shop with a Cop” at Walmart in Severn, then have lunch at Outback Steakhouse. The morning was put together by the Annapolis and the Fort Smallwood Optimist Clubs.

The morning started off around 8 a.m. when officers from Anne Arundel County Police, Annapolis Police, Natural Resources Police and Maryland State Capitol Police drove their squad cars to the homes of 62 needy children in Annapolis, Edgewater, Lothian, Davidsonville and areas in the northern part of the county.

The kids got to sit up front and chat with the officer on the drive to Walmart on Quarterfield Road in Severn—right off of I-97. There, the kids got $100 to spend. The officers walked through the store helping them make selections.

The children got some stuff for themselves, but mostly picked out gifts for their family members. In one basket, there was a sweater for mom and a toy for baby sister. In another, a boy selected pencils and erasers for himself so that he could do his schoolwork.

After the shopping, the children from Southern District returned to the Annapolis Outback Steakhouse. There, they wrapped all of the gifts (even the things they bought for themselves).

Matt Byrd is the proprietor at Outback. He said that the Optimist Club approached him about three years ago.

“We do different charities throughout the year. This was a no-brainer,” he said.

The Outback provided about 50 lunches for the kids and cops. Other volunteers from the Annapolis Optimist Club showed up to help wrap gifts. Each child gave their officer a gift and a thank you note.

“We have more money. We have more kids. We’d love to have more officers,” Harry Chalstrom, president of the Annapolis Optimist Club said, adding that is why that invited the Natural Resources and Maryland State Capitol police to participate this year.

The children come from different schools in the area. The optimists find the children by contacting school guidance counselors. Chalstrom said that in all, 14 schools were contacted, including Edgewater, Mayo, Davidsonville and Central. One Lothian student who attends the Phoenix Center also participated.

He said that the event takes from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., so the police involved are donating a good portion of their own time on a Saturday.

Chalstrom said that both officers and the children get something out of participating. He said that often the children pick out gifts for their entire family, but don’t end up with anything for themselves. He said that is when the officers open their wallets and have the children go back to the toy department to select something for themselves.

“They are reaching into their own pockets to make sure these kids have a good Christmas,” he said. “That says something.”

Yes it does.

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About Mitchelle Stephenson

I've gotta tell Mitchelle! Send your South County news tips, brag on your fab volunteers, talk traffic, police and fire or just say "howdy" to Mitchelle Stephenson, co-founding editor of the South River Source. Mitchelle@SouthRiverSource.com or reach me in person on mobile: 410-353-4706.

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