WARSAW — The moment Stella Ward was approached by officers with Warsaw Police Department, she began to cry — not tears of fear or anger, but happiness and gratitude. Ward’s two children, Beau, 6, and Kadin, 12, were among the 13 children pre-selected to participant in the annual WPD “Shop With A Hero” event.
“It brought tears to my eyes, it truly is a blessing,” stated Ward. “I just want to thank them. If it wasn’t for them, our Christmas wouldn’t be quite as special.”
Thursday, Dec. 17, with the help of Meijer and Warsaw Burger King, owned by Quality Dining Inc., officers volunteered to escort 13 children, ranging from age 6 to 13, to Burger King to enjoy a festive holiday meal with their families. Children were able to order food, enjoy slushies and even a cookie or two. Santa Claus joined the fun, offering children the chance to sit on his lap for a photo.
Following the meal, the brigade of kids and officers headed to Meijer, where thanks to the generous donation of the store children were able to purchase necessities for themselves, as well as Christmas presents for their families. Officers guided the cheerful boys and girls through the clothing section and then on to the much anticipated toy aisle, picking out shoes, sweaters, pants, gloves and more before selecting a toy for themselves.
“These kids can see there are good people in the world and we care about them,” noted WPD Officer Jeff Ticknor, who has participated in the event all three years it has been offered. “I like seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and knowing a lot of kids still look up to the police.”
According to Officer Doug Light, the event began with the generosity of Meijer and then blossomed into a partnership with Quality Dining/Burger King.
“There are a lot of people for whatever reason who have troubles in their life, especially during the holidays. We are happy to be able to help a few and know a lot of organizations will help others in need. I think the event puts us in a positive view and people get to see police officers interacting with these kids. I definitely think this makes us more approachable to kids. This is something they will always remember.”
Light also gave a nod to his fellow officers for volunteering their time, noting without them, the event could not be successful.
“I’m just the organizer here,” stated Light with a smile. “These guys who signed up are the real heroes today.”
When asked if they were excited to shop with an officer, both Ward boys said yes excitedly.
“The help us and they save our city and arrest the bad guys,” exclaimed Beau Ward.
“(If I could say anything to the officers) I’d say thanks for helping us and helping our city and our state,” stated Kadin Ward.