SOUTHFIELD — Striving to serve their community in a new and different way, local officers are hosting a charity toy drive to give less-fortunate families a magical Christmas this year.
It’s the Southfield Police Department’s first Harding/McMahon Charity Toy Drive, in honor of the city’s two fallen heroes who were killed in the line of duty.
Lt. Nick Loussia said the drive gives officers a chance to serve local families even more and is being led by Detective Brian Weeks.
“We realize that there (are) children in need this Christmas and this is one way to help the community, by providing these gifts to families who need them,” Loussia explained. “It’s a great example of the Police Department, especially Detective Weeks, displaying his initiative and how much he cares for the community by starting this first toy drive.”
Officers hope that the toy drive becomes an annual tradition, and they named it after the only two policemen from the Southfield Police Department who have been killed in the line of duty.
Southfield police officer Donald Harding was the first Southfield officer to be killed in the line of duty, at the age of 27. He was killed Aug. 4, 1962, after being struck in a squad car by two drag racers on Eight Mile.
The squad car hit the base of a tree, killing Harding and hurling his patrol partner, officer James Kirkpatrick, 40 feet. Kirkpatrick was seriously injured and the suspects were never identified.
Harding had been married for four years and he had one daughter.
Southfield police officer James McMahon, the son of a retired Detroit police officer, was killed in the line of duty Jan. 22, 1971. He was 25 years old when he was hit by a drunken driver while replacing flares on Nine Mile after an accident.
McMahon had just announced his engagement to be married two weeks before he died. The drunken driver who hit him was sentenced to less than two years in prison by an Oakland County Circuit Court judge.
Harding’s and McMahon’s names come up often around department-led initiatives, from the police shooting range that’s named after them to the scholarship that has been awarded in their names for 10 years.
This toy drive is another way to remember them in Southfield.
“It’s to preserve their legacy and to honor what they did for the community,” Loussia said. “They served our community and, unfortunately, they lost their lives doing it.”
Chief Eric Hawkins echoed Loussia’s sentiment and believes that the charity goes hand-in-hand with being involved in the community and going above and beyond to serve.
“This is a great example of the Police Department’s commitment to our community-policing philosophy and a great example of our officers’ efforts to give back to the community — especially to those in need during the holiday season,” he said.
New toy donations can be dropped off in the Southfield Police Department lobby, located in the Southfield Municipal Complex at 26000 Evergreen Road. The lobby is open 24 hours a day, every day of the week, and donations will be collected until Dec. 17. The donated toys will be distributed to children in need throughout the metro Detroit area.
For more information, call Weeks at (248) 796-5418.