Families Go Shopping With Heroes

Bringing her children into Burger King Thursday night for a free meal with Warsaw Police Department officers before they all went Christmas shopping at Meijer, one mother was crying.
It had been a hard year for her and her family, but last night her tears were not of sorrow but joy, for the gift about to be given to her young ones.
The annual “Shopping with Heroes” program, sponsored by the WPD and supported by Burger King and Meijer®, took place Thursday night. Officers escorted approximately 13 Warsaw Community Schools children, ranging from 6 to 13 years old, to dinner donated by Burger King® Restaurant. After the meal and a visit from Santa Claus, officers accompanied the children to Meijer for a holiday shopping trip.
“It’s a blast,” said WPD Cpl. Doug Light, who organizes the event. “You just saw the emotion (from one parent). And being able to do a little something – it’s not a lot, just a little something – it puts us in a positive light and police haven’t got a lot of positive light.”
He said it was a special night for everyone involved as even some of the officers’ families came out and participated. The regular customers also get to see the officers doing something positive, he said.
This is the third year for Shopping with Heroes, Light said, and about 14 officers participated.
“Burger King does a great job. They’ll have Santa out here in a little bit. They’ll get ice cream or slushies,” Light said before the meal. “It’s all donated.”
Patrolman Justin “Tug” Curtis and his wife, Laura, ate dinner and went shopping with Brooklyn Holloway and her mother, Heather.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the kids. It’s what I enjoy the most – helping those in need,” Tug said, adding that the expressions on the kids’ faces while shopping at Meijer makes it all worthwhile.
He and Laura also will participate in Shop with a Cop Monday at Meijer with the Fraternal Order of Police.
“I just appreciate everything Meijer does,” he said.
Asked what the night meant for her as a mother, Heather replied, “It means my daughter gets to have a really great Christmas. Stuff I can’t give her.”
Brooklyn was shy, but nodded to say it was fun and she liked riding in the police car.
Cpl. Jaime De La Fuente had his whole family with him for the event.
“My kids actually wanted to do it. They put their plans they had aside because they wanted to be involved, too. All the kids rode the bus home so we could meet up and do this,” he said. “They understand that not all families have the type of Christmas they would like.”
It was his first year volunteering for Shopping with Heroes, but De La Fuente has done Shop with a Cop and Toys For Tots before.
“You got to give back a little bit,” he said. “They get to see us in a positive light for a change.”
Lt. Joel Beam agreed, saying, “I think it’s important for police, especially in this day and age, to give back to the community. It’s important for kids to see us in a positive light and see us as helpers.”
Beam has not only participated in Shopping with Heroes all three years, but he’s done Shop with a Cop for a “long time” as well.
“The expressions on their face,” Beam said about what he likes most about it. “So often we see people on their worst days. This is such a nice change because we get to see kids and people on their nice days.”

(Story By The Times Union)