By SUE SUCHYTA
HEIGHTS – With the generosity of local sponsors, city firefighters and police officers helped deserving youngsters select gifts Dec. 22 during Shop with a Hero at the Dearborn Heights Target.
Personnel from the city’s school districts nominated 25 children to participate, and area businesses, including the Heights Target store, J & T Crova Towing, and Priority Waste, provided donations to purchase gift cards.
Police Chief Jerrod Hart said first responders try to make positive connections with community members year-round, and Shop with a Hero allows them to spread some holiday cheer.
“This is that special time of year that we have an opportunity to give back, and our staff has really worked hard developing our mission statement, which is partnering with our community, and this is our mission statement in action,” he said. “It gives our staff members an opportunity to have a non-enforcement contact with our parents and guardians and our young members of the community.”
Hart said it warms his heart to be able to spread joy during the holidays, especially in a world filled with conflict and sorrow.
“If we can be tied to an event that makes them happy, then that makes me happy,” he said.
Acting Polk Elementary Principal Katie Schuchert said children were selected by school principals based on families who would be able to attend the event and would enjoy it.
“And, of course, families that needed a little extra help around the holidays,” she said.
Mayor Bill Bazzi said it was heartwarming to see the participating children receive things they might not otherwise have gotten.
“We were able to get some sponsors to make their Christmas come through,” he said. “This is amazing.”
Bazzi said this is the first time the Dearborn Heights police officers and firefighters have teamed up to sponsor an event like this together.
He thanked the business sponsors as well for their generous donations.
“I reached out to them, and I told them that we have a bunch of kids that really need to make their Christmas wish come true, and they came through,” Bazzi said. “Each kid was able to buy up to $200 worth of gifts. It’s amazing.”