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NRP Officers Play Santa’s Elves in ‘Shop with a Cop’ Program

Trevor Spellman, 14, and NRP Cpl. James "Junior" Johnson share a laugh on the Walmart checkout line at the Shop With A Cop event on Saturday.

Trevor Spellman, 14, and NRP Cpl. James “Junior” Johnson share a laugh on the Walmart checkout line at the ‘Shop with a Cop’ event on Saturday.

Armed with wish lists and wearing big smiles, eight children from the Baltimore area accompanied by Natural Resources Police officers took part in Saturday’s annual Shop With A Cop outing.

“This is really great, getting to pick stuff out yourself,” said Trevor Spellman, 14, of Brooklyn, as he planned with NRP Cpl. James Johnson what to get for his father and two older brothers.

Said Johnson, grinning, “I think I’m getting as much out of this as he is.”

Local chapters of the Optimist Clubs of Cherry Hill, Fort Smallwood and Annapolis organized the shopping sprees with Walmart in Severn, and Outback restaurants in Glen Burnie and Annapolis. Each child was given a $100 gift card to spend and treated to lunch while volunteers wrapped their gifts.

Officers from the region’s law enforcement agencies acted as chaperones, gift consultants, cart pushers and, in some cases, a little more.

“These officers are wonderful,” said Rosemarie Bolling-Briggs, a Fort Smallwood Optimist Club member who bagged presents at the checkout line. “They even reached into their own pockets to make up the difference when the kids went a little over.”

It took most of the shoppers, ages 6-14, less than an hour to get a gift for everyone on their list, and maybe a little something for themselves.

Linda Bowman, Cherry Hill chapter event organizer, said has been raising money and choosing children from the community for nearly a decade.

“Our community is made up of third- and fourth- generation families. We know who in our neighborhood, our work places, our church, could benefit from Shop with a Cop,” Bowman said. “It warms your heart to see the kids and the officers together. It makes your day. It makes your year.”