There was quite a scene near the entrance of the Jenison Meijer one week ago. Shoppers encountered emergency vehicles lighting the night sky with their flashers. No doubt, it caused a little confusion but once inside they would be met with a pleasant surprise. Members of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and Georgetown Fire Department had responded to the call for a helping hand in a unique way: offering shopping guidance to fulfill Christmas wish lists for some Jenison families. Probably not part of their academy education, but they were up to the task!
Starting the planning process shortly after school was back in session this fall; “Shop with a Sheriff” was organized by Ottawa County Deputy, Eric Smith. Deputy Smith reached out to Jenison Public Schools Parent Liaison, Mary Veldink and they got to work on a plan to ensure an enjoyable Christmas season for some families in the district. The 40 chosen students would have the chance to shop for family members with a little personal help from a friend.
The time and attention Deputy Smith put into making this happen can not be overlooked. He went so far as to personally match each student with a civil servant he thought they would be able to connect with and enjoy their time together. Creating some very meaningful touch points for the students. Meijer was also a very eager partner as they financially supported the shoppers with gift cards, wrapping paper and fueled everyone with treats and snacks.
Our local heroes weren’t the only ones playing Santa’s Helpers that night. Tucked away on the second story in Meijer, was a room filled with a small army of Pinewood Elementary volunteers. Whether they were teaching the kids how to wrap presents, sharing a treat or a joke; their hearts were filled by the genuine smiles on the students’ faces. Kids were beaming with pride and anxiously awaited bringing home the gifts they had chosen for their family. It is heartwarming to see our students focus on the joy of giving to those closest to them.
I continue to be overwhelmed by the ingenuity and heart of community friends like Deputy Smith. His vision for this night and Mary Veldink’s commitment to JPS Families is priceless. Thank you Ottawa County Sheriff and Georgetown Fire Departments, and Meijer for making this holiday season extra special! and Team Pinewood for making this a memorable Christmas for your students.