Six police cruisers pulled up to the doors at Windham Walmart on Tuesday, drawing concerned looks from shoppers. They gathered out front to form their plan and scattered into the store. This wasn’t a typical operation for the police department, officers took time from their schedules to shop for Windham Social Services. With money raised at various fundraisers, they brought $2,000 to buy toys for over 30 children in Windham.
From learning toys for toddlers to make up for teens, the officers worked with one another to find the best gifts for the children they were shopping for. In past years, the officers were given a dollar amount and they picked out items for a variety of children. This year, administrative assistant Sue Rogers, gave each officer a sheet of paper with an age and suggestions for gifts that child would love to see under their tree. So as the officers were shopping, they had a specific child in mind.
“The best reason we do this is that we are giving back to the community. We receive a lot of public support in town and it’s nice to give some of that back,” said officer Jason Burke.
The fundraising for their programs come from solicitation calls in the beginning of the year and a show they put on. This year on February 25, Windham Police Department will introduce the community to Audio Body, a musical performance duo similar to the Blue Man Group. With the money raised, the officers as a whole are able to donate to local charities, sports teams and sponsor officers or someone with a connection to the department as they participate in walks like the Dempsey Challenge and cancer walks.
“We donate to different veteran groups, team like little league who went to Nationals and special circumstances like cancer diagnosis or a kid who needs a physical to play sports. It’s all done quietly,” said officer Jim Cook.
While the officers scoured the toy department for Christmas gems, shoppers stopped them and gave them donations to put toward the purchases. They received $270 in donations while shopping. Another woman gave them $100 in gift cards that were already paid for.
“One man who had a long negative history with the police, came up to us and gave us cash one year,” said Cook.
This was the fourth year the police department has shopped for less fortunate children in Windham. They also added some gifts and toiletries for seniors.
Good will breeds good will. Dunkin Donuts in Walmart offered to give each officer a free coffee for the good work they were doing. Although few took them up on the offer, it was the thought that counted.
Outdoor photo – (L to R) Justin Hudnor, Seth Fornier, Jason Burke, Eric Quatrano, Sue Rogers, Sherma Moody (Manager of Walmart), Matt Cyr, Jason Andrews, Gene Gallant, Jim Cook and Bill Andrew.