Beech Grove community raises funds for beneficial holiday program
By Nicole Davis
It’s not always bad thing when a police officer shows up on your doorstep. During this holiday season, volunteers from the Beech Grove Police Department (BGPD) and other community members will visit 50 pre-selected children, giving them a toy that’s on their list this year. This year’s Shop with a Cop event will be a bit different than past years.
“It’s also an opportunity for us to cast the police department in a positive light to let them know you don’t always have to encounter them when there is a problem,” said Major Tom Hurrle. “We have a lot of resources that we can steer people toward. It’s a chance for police department to show up on people’s doorstep when things are good.”
Volunteers from the BGPD held the program around 20 years. Before, they would take approximately 35 children from low-income households and take them shopping at Kmart for a toy and other items they need, then go to Great Times and to lunch.
“I think it’s had a huge impact,” Hurrle said. “Some of these kids are kids that otherwise wouldn’t have anything for Christmas. I would say that the officers involved in this program are inspired just as much as the families.”
This year to accommodate more children, the officers and volunteers will shop at Kmart themselves, getting a toy off each child’s list and presenting parents with a $50 gift card. This will also allow for parents to have presents under the Christmas tree. In the past they ended up with a surplus that carried over to the next year’s Shop with a Cop. Increasing donations, Hurrle said, was also part of the reason they decided to change the event’s format. This year they intend to spend upwards of $7,000 for the children.
“Donations have increased,” Hurrle said. “I attribute it to one reason. There have been specific people who have taken it upon themselves to host their own fundraisers. We do get donations from churches and random checks from private citizens. People like Mike DiNapoli and John O’Gara (who host fundraisers at their businesses) are gold to a program like this.”
Beech Grove Clay Works, located at 339 Main St., will host Soup for Tots on Dec. 1, 5-9 p.m. Members of Clay Works have made more than 100 ceramic bowls, which participants get to keep.
“It’s been a collaboration of our members,” DiNapoli said. “They’ve come in and devoted their time and energy to make these bowls. We couldn’t do it without them.”
The $15 cost of the event includes the bowl, soup and bread. Refills are $3. All proceeds benefit Shop with a Cop. If the event is successful, DiNapoli said he would like to make it an annual fundraiser.
“We wanted to do something for the community that’s local and beneficial,” said Mike DiNapoli, owner of Beech Grove Clay Works. “We found this and thought gee, that’s as good as it gets.”
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