December 1, 2010
As I was going through my pile of mail the other day, I was reminded of how many organizations ask for monetary support. I thought about how people decide which organizations they will support with their hard earned money. I looked at my own giving and was reassured that most of my contributions go to my local church and to organizations that I know help children and families who are in need, such as the Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, the Food Bank, and others. I also give to a number of organizations with a mission I agree with, such as Ducks Unlimited--increasing wildlife habitat, and Rails to Trails--converting old railroad right of ways into trails for public use such as bike riding, running and walking. I enjoy duck hunting with my wife and two labs, and thus, I know firsthand the need for maintaining wetland habitats which are home to so much of our wildlife. Likewise, my wife and I traveled on a week-long bike ride with Rails to Trails and enjoyed riding on some of the beautiful rail trails. Still, I sometimes find it tough to determine which organization to support. During these difficult financial times I am extremely grateful for you folks, who continue to support our Police Center Programs. I am well aware that there are more choices than funds when it comes to your money. Thank you for making us one of your choices.
I know I cannot adequately explain the importance of helping families during the holiday season. I think Charles Dickens did a good job in his portrayal of Mr. Scrooge. We don’t need to be frightened by ghosts to recognize our responsibility to give some of what we have to others who are truly--and sometimes desperately--in need. But I do believe we sometimes need to take an honest look at what we have, compared to those who have nothing. As a Police Officer, I am constantly reminded of poverty and the families who are affected by it. I have been called into homes where a bed in a child’s bedroom is not a piece of furniture but a wad of blankets on the floor. There are no curio cabinets, fine dining room tables, or artwork on the walls. The bathtub is the washing machine. The cupboards and refrigerators are bare. At times it seems hard to believe that families live like this in the U.S., but they do. At times, it is frustrating to watch celebrities pump millions of dollars towards making people’s lives better in other countries when we have so many families in need right here in our own country. That doesn’t mean that those countries don’t need or deserve it, because they do. It simply means we have a lot of work to do for families in our own communities--families that many people don’t even acknowledge exist. This Holiday Season I would ask that, rather than look away from the poverty around us, we look for the people affected by it. They are here in our midst. They may be in our middle class neighborhoods, but they are here. We see them but often look right past them. Many we do not see because their transportation is their feet, which means they buy their food at the closest corner store, not the big supermarkets where we shop. They eat at home or soup kitchens, not in the nice restaurants we are accustomed to. They shop for their clothes at thrift stores and only after wearing out their current clothing. From time to time we have to stop and take a genuinely honest look at what we have, compared to those who have nothing. I, for one, know that I am blessed. I have a job, a roof over my head, a big queen size bed, plenty of food in the cupboards and the refrigerator. God has richly blessed me, and I have a responsibility to share some of what I have with others.
I encourage you to take at look at how blessed you are and spend this holiday season sharing your blessings with others. Locally there are many great organizations that serve needy families who could benefit from your support. This year I challenge you to give both your time and your money. It’s easy to give our money; it’s much more difficult to give ourselves. Take that extra step and get yourself and your family involved. Imagine the fun you could have with your family and some friends by dressing up in costumes and ringing a bell for the Salvation Army. Volunteer to serve food at the Rescue Mission or stock shelves at the Food Bank. Come help us with the preparations for our Children’s Christmas Party. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with any number of worthy agencies. Please don’t let this year pass without getting involved.
Our Children’s Christmas Party is always our biggest event of the year. Each year we serve almost 1,000 children. It’s not only the gift for each child that is needed. We also need wrapping paper, name tags (self-stick), tape, snacks, drinks, coffee, cups, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, trash bags, ink cartridges, and photo paper for photos w/Santa (Polaroid film is no longer easily available).
The Christmas Party is planned for Thursday, December 23rd, from 2:00pm-7:00pm. We need numerous volunteers for various jobs on the day of the event as well as prior to the event. On two separate evenings (the weekdays before the party) we will be bringing gifts to Senior Centers to be wrapped--one night from 6:00pm-9:00pm at Salina School Apts., and another night 6:00pm-9:00pm at Franklin Square Apts. Volunteers are needed both nights. Also, if you have children who would like to help before the event, I need help picking out the gifts. We usually do this over several evenings once we begin receiving toys. On the day of the party, volunteers are needed to sign children in, serve food, wrap gifts, take photos w/ Santa, print photos w/ Santa, give out gifts, manage trash receptacles, and answer phones. If I know in advance the number of volunteers I have coming for the party, I am able to break the day down in shifts and offer volunteers the opportunity to rotate assignments. Please call me if you would like to volunteer.
As the cold weather arrives, we see an increase in the number of homeless folks who stop by the Police Center to pick up clothing. Anyone who has some used clothing, coats, hats, or gloves, and would like to drop them off, I am sure they will be useful for these families. I am once again searching for a pair of size 13 boots for someone in need. A good warm, insulated, rubber-type boot that can stand up to wet and snow would be best.
I have been making notes of families who sign up for the party that I believe could use a little extra help. It’s sometimes heart wrenching to see some of these families. We will do what we can for them. For anyone who wants to add some canned goods to their donations, we will use them for food baskets to help these families.
Donations of any of the items listed above or monetary donations to help us purchase the items will help make the Christmas Party possible. I would like to thank you for your continued support of the Police Center Programs. You make a tremendous difference in the lives of the families we serve.
Wishing you a safe and happy Holiday Season,
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
December 1, 2010