There are a ton of programs run by charitable organizations that are worthy, And then there are those that are well beyond worthy. Last week, we received a press release from the Anne Arundel County Police Department about their participation in the Shop With A Cop program sponsored by the local Optimists.
We contacted Harry Chalstrom, an Optimist member who has administered this program for 5 years for more details and given the time of the year, the economy, and the need; this has to rank up there as one of the top initiatives in charitable giving.
This is a joint effort between the Ft. Smallwood and Annapolis clubs and together they will send 40 elementary school aged children to Wal-Mart with $100 to shop for holiday gifts under the watchful eye of our local police officers.
The Optimists contribute $100 per child, Wal-Mart provides the experience along with coffee, juice and doughnuts. Outback Steakhouse provides a lunch while the gifts are wrapped! The children are picked up at their homes by uniformed police officers and will ride in their patrol cars to Wal-Mart for their holiday shopping–far away from the prying eyes of parents,relatives, siblings, and friends.
The children are not necessarily selected base on any financial need. It is more complex and subjective. Children are chosen by counselors in the local schools and law enforcement. According to Chalstrom, “I find the great thing about the criteria to participate is that the Clubs reach out to the School Counselors since they know the children on a personal level and Law Enforcement who also have a better view of which kids would benefit from the program.”
The funds for the children are provided by the Optimists from their donations, general fund and fundraisers. These organizations depend on community support and we encourage you to consider becoming involved with a donation of your time or finances. For more information on the Annapolis Optimist Club, please visit their website. For more information on the Ft. Smallwood Optimist Club, please call 410-255-5981.
In addition to Harry, there are individuals who make this happen year after year often go unrecognized–or under recognized.
The following list Optimists have consistently volunteered for the Shop with a Cop over the years.
Glen Rotner – President of the Annapolis Optimist Club
Pam Bowman – from the Ft Smallwood Optimist Club (instrumental in starting the program and has allowed it to be expanded to include the Annapolis Optimist Club)
Bonnie and Dan Hitzelberger
Tim and Mary Ann Mennuti
Mary Ann Publicover
And other members of the Optimist
The Anne Arundel community thanks each of you!