"Myself and K-9 Officer Shockey were dispatched to an auto accident, where we had the pleasure of meeting Gymnast Mia out of this unfortunate car crash. We were able to lift her spirits by giving her a Blessing Bag and Easter basket. In return, she showed us some cool gymnastics flips." That text from Columbus Division of Police Officer Timotheus Williams was the first feedback we received from an officer handing out Blessing Bags yesterday, and as you can imagine it brought tears to our eyes.
The kids and parents of Sahara-Columbus worked for weeks to make the following items for officers to hand out in their patrol areas:
300 kids' treat bags
50 bags for people experiencing homelessness
40 family food bags
Starfish supporter Mrs. Dolores Morris also made 120 Easter baskets, and CME Federal Credit Union and Wartel Family Foundation donated funds to supply forty $25 grocery gift cards for the officers to hand out to families in need.
In Linden, Officer Shawn Lutz gave his allotment of bags for people experiencing homelessness to neighborhood hero Paula Connell, who bravely and steadfastly works to rescue women from human trafficking. She uses her own home as a safe haven for these women, urging them to come pound on her door no matter the hour and she will let them in. It was an honor to meet her.
We also got to meet Pastor Sherwin Armistead, of True Love Ministries, who approached Officer Lutz after he handed treat bags and Easter baskets to kids playing basketball across from his church. He was a joy to speak with, and we look forward to seeing him again soon.
On the Hilltop, Field Training Officer Nick Sands is teaching new Officer Dayne Linhart extremely well--he's even introducing him to Starfish! You may remember that Officer Sands contacted us last year when a non-profit in his patrol area was heavily vandalized by children. We've stayed in touch with him ever since, so it was lovely to have him and Officer Linhart participate in the event.
After impressing all the little girls of Sahara-Columbus, Officer Amanda Hoover headed to her patrol area of the South Side to hand out Blessing Bags and Easter baskets. She's saving some for Officer Heidi Graber, though, and we made sure Officer Heidi received some bags for people experiencing homelessness, because she looks out for the people who stay in the park on her patrol area.
K-9 Officers David Jones and James Shockey, who we heard about yesterday in detail, also received a lot of these bags. They both travel around the city and hand them out to people in need, so they were grateful to receive them from Sahara-Columbus.
Detective Sean Taylor, whom we worked with often when he was a patrol officer on the West Side, has not forgotten about us now that he's a Digital Forensics Detective based in Headquarters. In fact, we're planning a very big Assignment with him that we'll announce in a few weeks. For now, though, he's helping whenever he can, which yesterday meant taking five of the family food bags and grocery gift cards to Homicide detectives. They are, as you can imagine, too busy to take time out to come to our events, but they still want to support the people they come in contact with, so Detective Taylor offered to do it for them.
Officer Dan Snyder graciously did interviews for us for Channels 6 and 10, and then headed out to deliver bags in his patrol area of South Central Columbus. One house he stopped by is Tina's*, the single mom with two daughters whose Assignment we're working on with Officers Kennedy and Halbur. They're doing very well and were happy to see him and to receive the Blessing Bags from them.
He also stopped by a home for some people with mental health challenges. He's very close to a lot of people there, so he wanted to do what he could to brighten their day.
Officer Snyder also went to see the friends of Officer AJ Johnson, also known as Ohnoitsdapopo. They have a very large family, so Officer Snyder got lots of extra attention at that house.
Thank you to everyone who made all of this possible. We appreciate everything you've done to help officers make a difference in the lives of the people they come in contact with.
This Spring Blessing Bag Event was so big that it was a two-part update. Don't miss yesterday's post!
*Name has been changed.