Santa Wears a Badge

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St. Mary's Kids Shop with Cops

ST. MARY'S COUNTY - 12/23/2008

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By Pete Hurrey

 
 St. Mary's Sheriff's Office PIO Dfc. Cindy Allen
 arrives at the staging area in Wildewood with
 two excited kids ready to shop - Lynn and
 Danielle Thompson had a blast.
Shoppers at Wal-Mart in California were surprised to see police officers rolling into the parking lot with lights and sirens on Saturday, Dec. 20. Inside those police cruisers were very eager and excited children, anxious to enter the store with their new favorite Santa's helper - their very own cop for the annual Shop with a Cop day in St. Mary's County.

The effort in St. Mary’s County is  headed up by Det. Bill Raddatz of the Bureau of Criminal

 
 Raddatz
Investigations, who, along with Joe Stanalonis, an Assistant States Attorney, heard about a program in Baltimore five years ago – an Optimist-sponsored initiative. That year the program in Baltimore served 10 children, providing $100 to each child to go shopping.

“We knew we could do better than that,” smiled Raddatz. The effort that first year, saw Raddatz and Stanalonis raise enough money to take 37 children shopping.

“Each year the program has grown,” said Raddatz. “We now usually have over a hundred children.” Also, there is now a summer program that has cops taking needy children for Back-to-School shopping as well.

 
 The children were treated to donuts and hot
 chocolate while waiting for everyone to
 arrive so the shopping to begin.
Raddatz indicated that this year the program was able to provide each child with $200 to Christmas shop.

To be sure, more than 100 children had the time of their lives on Saturday.



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