For a number of families, the holiday season is far from easy. Money struggles mean that they worry about not just presents, but things like food and rent—when they should be able to celebrate the festivities joyfully.
In Shawnee, Kansas, one anonymous donor has been working to change that.
For the last three years, the anonymous person has given $10,000 in cash to the Shawnee Police Department to help those in need.
No strings are attached to this money—it’s all in cash, no contests or entry fees or stipulations for how it’s spent. The only qualifier, according to the police department, is that the money goes to those in need.
The officers have different ways of determining need.
Some of the city residents who get handed cash are those they’ve seen on the street, either in passing or in various encounters. Others are those they’ve seen just trying to get by, or heard about through friends and social media.
It isn’t always easy getting the money to the residents without some hesitation, either. Some of the residents who need the money the most don’t always trust the police the most—so when an officer walks up and knocks on their front door, they pause before answering.
One member of the force, Officer Herber, follows up her knock with a quick call of “you’re not in trouble” to ease minds.
Others pull over individuals for routine traffic stops, but bring a $100 bill to their window instead of a ticket.
The citizen who gives the donation hopes that the money will serve a two-fold purpose; not only does he want to help out the community as best he can, he hopes that the money will foster a more positive relationship between members of the community and the police force.
Given all of the bad press that officers have gotten over the last few years, this “Secret Santa” wants to give the Shawnee officers a chance to show the community just how much good they can do, as well.
Some of the recipients, such as Erin Williams, need the money themselves. Williams has been unemployed since spring, and recently had her car stolen to top it all off.
Another resident, grandmother Gina Sailsbury, has been getting by on short-term disability after losing her leg this year—but thanks to the money she was given, she now has the funds to stretch things and buy her grandchildren Christmas gifts.
Still other residents don’t personally need the money as much, but now have a chance to do more good in the community themselves. That was the case for John Kreutzer, who was given $100 after getting pulled over for failing to use his turn signal.
Kreutzer’s wife had been looking to help an individual in the community who needed a bed for the holidays, but the family didn’t have the extra cash immediately at their disposal.
She had been planning to dip into their funds anyway, stretching things a bit thinner elsewhere to make sure they had enough to help the other individual out. With the $100 he was given by an officer, Kreutzer said the family can now comfortably help out without taking a hit themselves.
While very few know who gives the money each year, the entire department gets in on the giving—and at the end of the season, there’s always a big book of stories they can use to show the good they do, as well.
Watch the video below:
Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot | KMBC 9 News Kansas City.