WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — With Santa and his elves working overtime at the North Pole, Jolly Old St. Nick got extra help from the Shelby Township Police Department.
Making sure that no one was left off Santa’s list locally, officers led youths through the aisles at Meijer on 26 Mile Road in Washington Township Dec. 13 and helped them pick out holiday gifts for their families and themselves.
“I didn’t want Christmas to happen without anything under the tree, so I thank God for them,” Jihan Asker said of the role Shelby Township police played in helping assure that her daughter, Lexy Soloman, had a Merry Christmas.
“Thank you so much for helping. My little girl is happy, and that is all that matters,” Asker said.
Lexy, 10, was one of several children that the department helped.
“It’s for families that have fallen on hard times and need a little help,” officer Joseph Stuglin said. The program partners an officer with a child for their shopping trip.
“It feels good to try and give back and see kids smile. You can see (children) get a lot out if it, and it makes you feel good, too,” he added.
“I was excited because I never got to spend time with an officer for a couple minutes,” Lexy Soloman said, as she colored a thank-you note. “I was also nervous, though, because I’ve never spent time with a cop before.”
Stuglin said that was a pivotal part of the shopping experience for youngsters, too.
“Not all our contact with them is positive,” Stuglin said. “Shopping with them and being friendly with them, kids get to see an officer in a friendly manner and as a person they can trust and go to for help.”
The youths weren’t the only participants who left the shopping experience with smiles and a reward, though.
Stuglin said that, in a profession where officers can routinely see the worst of humanity and tragic situations, the chance to know a day would end with a smile was priceless.
“Officers get involved in police work to help people and do good and to give kids like this a role model,” Stuglin said. “You don’t always feel like that every day, so this kind of reminds you why you wanted to be an officer.”