The Westminster Police Department, the Westminster Walmart and other sponsors this week officially launched the 2012 edition of the annual Shop With A Cop angel tree drive.

The drive, which started in 2004, calls upon local residents to donate items or cash to help local families in need during the holidays. Westminster police officials say that since it started, the drive has aided more than 180 children from 86 local families.


The angel tree is located inside the Westminster Walmart, located on Woodward Drive. The tree is decorated with gift tags (paper angels), each bearing a description of a need identified by one of the Shop With A Cop families.

Shoppers are asked to select an angel from the tree, purchase the gift and leave it in the collection box in the store. The deadline for donating a gift is Nov. 26.

"This gives us time to get the gifts wrapped prior to the actual event," said Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding in an email. "Last year, more than 275 gifts were purchased in this manner, each specifically identified as a need by one of our (Shop With A Cop) families."

After the period of gathering donations, the Shop With A Cop event will take place Saturday, Dec. 8 at 8 a.m. at the Walmart. The morning begins with breakfast at McDonalds, shopping at Walmart, and then the children will go to the Westminster Senior Center to wrap gifts, have lunch with their family and enjoy a holiday party.

For more information on the angel tree drive or the Shop With A Cop program, contact Sgt. Keith Benfer, supervisor of the Westminster Police Department Community Education Section, at 410-857-9282.

Spaulding noted that the Shop With A Cop program is really a year-round event.

"We accept cash contributions year round to support these efforts," he said.

Those who wish to donate may send checks made out to "Supporters of the Westminster Police Department" — which is a component fund of the Carroll Community Foundation, and is therefore tax deductable. Then, they may put "Shop With A Cop" on the memo line.

Checks can be mailed to the Westminster Police Department, 36 Locust St., Westminster.