Howard County police are sponsoring two holiday-themed charity events this weekend and a third event late next week.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, police are participating in "Shop with a Cop" and the BearTrax holiday party, both of which are for local children.

“The kids are always excited and appreciative, not just with the gifts, but with the opportunity to spend some time with an officer,” said Police Chief Bill McMahon. “I also know that the officers walk away feeling as good as the kids do.” 

During "Shop with a Cop" police will spend the afternoon with school-age children, who are often in need, shopping for holiday gifts. This year, the 18th year of the event, 70 children will participate in the event held at Toys R Us in Columbia. 

For the holiday party, children, ranging in age from five to 13 years, will have the opportunity to mingle with Santa, participate in crafts, and receive gifts. 

According to a news release, the philosophy of the year-round BearTrax Program is to enhance relationships between police and youth and provide role models that help a child develop socially and emotionally. 

Additionally, on Thursday, Dec. 19, police will provide a hot, catered meal, coats, hats, gloves, and good conversation to the local homeless population at the North Laurel-Savage Multiservice Center.

Food donations will also be made in support of the Bridgeway Community Church’s “Community Cupboard." This event, along with the "Shop with a Cop," is sponsored by the Howard County Minority Police Officers Association and the Howard County Police Officers Association, FOP Lodge 21. 

Police said those who want to donate to fund the program can send them to: H.C.P.O.A., FOP Lodge 21,P.O. Box 594 Ellicott City, MD 21042.