by Nicole Rosselot
The Sagamore Hills Police Department continued its holiday tradition of participating in the Northern Summit County “Shop with a Cop” program. The event took place on Dec. 10 and included breakfast, a shopping trip and a pizza party.
According to Officer Dan DeCrane, who runs the program for SHPD, the department raised enough funds to shop with 16 students from Rushwood Elementary, located within Sagamore Hills, and sponsor an additional three children from other communities.
This year, the participating communities came together for breakfast at Kimpton Middle School in Munroe Falls, where the children were greeted by superheroes, Disney princesses and, of course, Santa Claus. After breakfast, a parade of school buses and police cars, complete with flashing lights and sirens, made its way to Target in Stow.
“Target is really awesome,” DeCrane said. “They bring in extra staff and we have certain registers that are just for us.”
The children came ready to shop with their wish lists. The generosity of the Sagamore Hills community enabled SHPD to give each shopper $200 to spend on their favorite things. “The program officially says it is $100 per child, but we at SHPD came together and decided that inflation is a real thing and so we actually doubled that,” DeCrane said.
Several Sagamore police officers and other community members volunteered at the event. According to volunteer Carson Carrell, a cadet at Kent State University Basic Peace Officer Training Academy, one of the most popular purchases this year was Squishmallows, a large, stuffed, “squishy,” toy.
Other volunteers included DeCrane’s wife Becky, a paraprofessional at Rushwood Elementary; Officer Glenn Nicholl, school resource officer at Rushwood Elementary, and his daughter Katie Nicholl; Officer Bobby Patterson and girlfriend Alexandra Myles; Officer Glenn Lucore; Officer Gary Petrusky; and Jan Riedthaler, a paraprofessional at Rushwood Elementary.
Financial support for Shop with a Cop comes primarily from local businesses, in addition to resident donations. “I solicit funds through businesses in town … they really come through for us,” DeCrane said.
Shop with a Cop is a rewarding program for both the children and police officers. The children “are definitely grateful,” DeCrane said. “They may not understand finances in their households, but they do understand that they don’t have some stuff that their friends have and so when you tell them yes instead of no, they light up, and that in itself is a cool experience.”
DeCrane added that the best part of the day for him is building a relationship with the children in his community. “In the morning, the kids are kind of quiet, but by the end of the day they tell me about their favorite things because we just spent hours together, and that relationship lasts,” he said.
Donations for the Sagamore Hills Shop with a Cop program are accepted year round at the Sagamore Hills Township offices, located at 11551 Valley View Rd. ∞