Local emergency services agencies and Meijer joined forces to help 40 kids complete holiday shopping Thursday night.
Officers of the Saline Police Department joined members of the Pittsfield Township Department of Public Safety for the second annual “Shop With a Hero” program at the Meijer store on Ann Arbor-Saline Road.
Armed with $2,000 in gift cards provided by Meijer, children and parents shopped the aisles with police officers and firefighters.
One mother of two, who asked not to be named, said the program was a “wonderful blessing.”
“This means so much. I’m a full time student. My oldest daughter’s father passed away. My youngest daughter’s father has been to Iraq twice and was homeless until recently. So I can’t tell you how much this helps,” she said.
Saline police officer Theo Helms participated in the program for the first time Thursday. He called it a great experience.
“I tried to steer the two kids I was with toward more educational items. And I also reminded kids that since they had free money to shop with, that they should consider buying something for their mom or dad or brothers and sisters. And they did that,” Helms said. “The kids were great. Everywhere they went, they interacted with firefighters and police officers. They seemed to have a good time.”
Saline police SgtJay Basso shopped with a couple of Saline area teenage girls who wanted to buy clothes.
Ritchie Coleman, Community Coordinator for Pittsfield Township Department of Public Services, said the department worked with area schools and churches to identify families who needed assistance.
“It’s heart-warming to see families in need able to get these gifts for the holidays. This is one of the things that makes being part of emergency services so great,” Coleman said. “Meijer stores are so generous to provide this great community service.”
Besides the gift cards, Meijer also provided cookies, pizza and beverages for families.
Pittsfield Public Safety Director Matthew Hershberger said Pittsfield Township DPS and Meijer have been partnering for this program at the Carpenter Road Meijer for 13 years. Last year, the program expanded to the Ann Arbor Saline Road Meijer.
(Some photos were provided by the Saline Police Department.)