Today Starfish got to go shopping with Columbus Division of Police police officers who wanted to help out a crime victim. Esther had been working all year to save for Christmas presents. When she saw a good deal on an item, she bought it for her kids and stored it away. She even had some of the presents wrapped. One of the presents she was most proud of was the bike she'd managed to purchase for her 9-year-old son.
All that planning was swept away by burglars who recently broke into her mom's house and stole all the presents she'd been so diligently compiling. Esther said that, when she gave the police her statement about the loss, she tried not to cry, but she was devastated. She told me how kind the officers were to her when they were talking to her about the incident.
The officers of 5 Precinct (South Linden) were touched by her story of loss and wanted to see if they could help restore some Christmas joy for this single mom and her three kids. When Ofc Pete Casuccio contacted us, we offered to make a donation, and the officers said they'd match it.
Esther works two jobs to provide for her family, and she has not had an easy life. Due to a violent ex-boyfriend, the family had been living in a protective shelter until recently. But they're now in a comfortable home where she and the kids feel safe.
Esther tries to help others whenever she has the opportunity, providing free translation services for people who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford them. Because she has a car, she frequently will drive people to appointments, and then stay and translate for them, just to be helpful.
Sgt Joe Ritch, Ofc James Kirk, Ofc Stephen Hunter, Esther and her 13-year-old daughter, Genesis, strolled the aisles of Target, picking items for Christmas. Most of their purchases were for essentials--shoes, pants, shirts, socks, boots--but there were enough fun presents in there that they're going to have a really great Christmas. They even got stockings, something Esther said she hadn't been able to afford for years. (We bought stocking stuffers when Genesis wasn't around, telling her that she has to have some surprise on Christmas morning.)
Genesis is a smart, respectful, kind girl. The officers were very impressed with her and spoke to her about her schoolwork and her future plans. One of the items she asked for was a NASA shirt.
Esther did not ask to buy a single thing for herself. She just wanted her kids to be taken care of.