By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — An anonymous $10,000 donation by a local philanthropist allowed the Police Department to spread holiday cheer throughout the city, including helping people whom officers encountered earlier in the year.
On Dec. 22 officers helped Cieara and Tony Anderson purchase holiday gifts for their four school age children, and they showed up at Andrea Parisi’s house with holiday gifts to make her life easier.
The Andersons, who are black, encountered racial harassment earlier this year when they moved into a new neighborhood, and someone stole the bicycles and toys of their four school-age children: Taniya, 12; Tonia and Tony, 11 (but nine months apart in age); and Takiya, 10.
The family was facing other challenges at the time, and the thefts made the situation worse.
Parisi’s microwave exploded and caught fire Dec. 14 when she was using the appliance as a timer. Police Officer Nick Wellman said the kitchen was filled with an acrid smelling, black smoke.
Wellman and Police Officer Thomas Amross were among the first responders, and that night they, along with two other officers bought her a new microwave and smoke detectors with their own money, and installed them.
On Dec. 22, using funds from the benefactor, Sgt. Jeff Adamisin and Officers Billy Shillingburg, Amross and Wellman took Cieara and Tony Anderson shopping at Walmart, 7555 Telegraph Road, for holiday presents for their children, and also shopped for gifts for Parisi, which they delivered to her that evening.
As the Andersons shopped for their children, they were filled with gratitude for the unexpected shopping trip. Cieara Anderson said their children all get along well.
“I got them board games, because they like to play together,” she said. “They love playing Uno and Connect Four. They even do homework together.”
Cieara Anderson said their children are aware of the family’s financial challenges and are grateful for what they do have.
“They are responsible, and they do chores – they know and they do it,” she said, “They are very good kids.”
She said that when she faced health challenges that stem from a car accident two years ago, her children brought her breakfast in bed.
“They kept coming to check on me,” she said. “I am grateful I’ve got my kids and my husband. They do what they can.”
Tony Anderson said he was so happy that their children would have a happy Christmas.
One of the items they purchased was a basketball hoop, and he said he is looking forward to getting outside to play basketball with all of them.
He said the girls will also be excited about the dolls he and his wife selected. He said the children were at their maternal grandmother’s house while they shopped, so they could get home and hide the presents without them seeing.
“It’s going to be a very good surprise for them,” Tony Anderson said. “They are going to be very happy.”
He said the children don’t complain about things they don’t have, and they appreciate what they do have.
“I love ’em to death,” Tony Anderson said. “We all love each other, and I am happy to be here today.”
Adamisin, Shillingburg, Amross and Wellman delivered the holiday gifts to Parisi, including a larger television screen to make it easier for her to read the closed captioning; a timer, so she doesn’t have to use her microwave for that purpose; a CD player and country music CDs; and food, including boxes of her favorite cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Parisi said her food stamp allocation was recently cut for reasons she could not discern.
Amross said Parisi’s mobility issues keep her at home a lot, and that is why they also bought some classic movies for her to watch her new television.
Parisi’s daughter, Denise Parisi, granddaughter Haley Parisi, 14, and a son live nearby, visit her daily and help her extensively.
Andrea Parisi said she has always prayed for firefighters and police officers.
“Everybody does so much, and I am so blessed,” she said.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)