Citizens rally to COPS for Christmas

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Donation drive fills paddy wagon with food and toys

SUMMERSIDE — It’s not often that the chief of police is locked up in the paddy wagon, but Christmas spirit looked kindly on his circumstance.

Alex Gallant, along with parents Wendy and Mike, pass their COPS for Christmas donations to Const. Brett Murphy at Credit Union Place. More than $5,500 in donations was presented to the Salvation Army to assist with their seasonal programs.

Const. Brett Murphy came up with an idea he called COPS for Christmas after discussing with two colleagues how the police department might encourage community spirit during the Christmas season.

They decided on a food and toy drive, and figured filling up the paddy wagon was a reasonable goal. The incentive would be to “arrest” the chief and release him in favour of donations of food or new toys.

“It’s just a fun thing, until the van is filled,” Murphy assured, and Chief Dave Poirier fully supported the initiative.

“I was elated when I heard. We need members to come up with ideas like this,” Poirier encouraged.

The plan was to keep Poirier “locked” in the van until it could be filled with food or toys donated to the Salvation Army food bank and its Christmas hamper programs, but the response from the public kept the incarceration to a minimum.

“The outpouring of gifts this morning is unreal,” Poirier expressed, but he understood the motivation.

“It’s a pretty emotional time of year.”

“It’s a great turnout. People are coming out in droves to support,” Murphy agreed.

Sarah Millar, general manager of Consolidated Credit Union, arrived with two tubs of groceries and toys for kids of all ages, with the food donated by her staff and the credit union donating the toys.

Teen Alex Gallant, with parents Wendy and Mike, arrived to donate a hockey stick and a game of Clue.

“I always liked Clue when I was growing up, and just about every kid likes hockey,” he justified the family’s choices.

Jillian DesRoches, who arrived with her family and their donations at the same time as two other contributors, noted that the gesture was in part an effort to demonstrate the Christmas spirit to her young daughter.

“We want Olivia to know it is not just about receiving gifts, it is about giving, too,” she explained.

Department members see the need for giving during their daily duties. Police officers often anonymously help community members on an individual basis, but Murphy appreciated the department getting involved in such a public promotion.

This first COPS for Christmas campaign encouraged more than $5,500 in donations of food, new toys and cash to help the Salvation Army to help meet the needs of their programs this holiday season.

Poirier recognized that not everyone in need is served by that organization, but at least it is available.

“There is no need, in this day and age, for people to be starving,” said the chief, noting it is often simply the reluctance to ask that keeps some from using the services that are available.

Organizations: Salvation Army, Consolidated Credit Union

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