The Hillsdale Police Department joined forces with the Jonesville Walmart location to provide Gier Elementary School students 12 new backpacks.
Every year, the Hillsdale Police Department participates in a charity event. Past events include stuffing busses, providing bins to collect winter jackets, and collecting money for the Salvation Army or Red Cross.
“The police force enjoys banding together to serve the community. Last year we did ‘no shave November’ and raised a considerable amount. This year we left a container at dispatch for officers to dump change into when returning from lunch,” Hillsdale Police Chief Scott Hephner said.
The Hillsdale Police contacted local schools to gauge compatible needs. Hephner called Gier Elementary School Principal Laurie VanOrman, who requested backpacks.
“Chief Hephner details our emergency safety plans for Gier Elementary, so he’s no stranger to the staff or the kids. We receive donations a few times a year, but few are considerate enough to call ahead and assess specific needs,” VanOrman said.
VanOrman actively integrates volunteers into Gier, such as the Hillsdale College football team, and is working with senior Victoria Fasset to start a ‘big brother and sister’ program.
VanOrman talked to nearly every student in order for the police force to best determine how it could help Gier Elementary School.
“Our school has 465 students and is still growing. Sometimes the parents ask for backpacks, but it’s usually the kids who know their needs the best,” VanOrman said. “Whether they can’t afford it or they lost it from a recent move, a backpack is the most basic school utensil.”
Hillsdale’s police officers are actively integrated into the community helpers, seeking to meet the needs of its members on a daily basis.
“The officers work for the town in addition to individual charity work, but we always raise more when we collaborate,” Hephner said. “Small amounts add up, and then we just find and meet needs.”
Hephner contacted Gale Fix, store manager of the Jonesville Walmart location, about their mission, and she agreed to discount the backpacks for half-price and double the number to 12.
“We always try to give back to the community. Chief Hephner told me the amount raised and what it was going toward, so I discounted the backpacks,” Fix said. “Charity breeds charity.”
While this was a one-time purchase for Walmart and the Hillsdale police, Principal VanOrman will see its impact everyday for the rest of the school year.
“The expressions of the kids when they received the backpacks paid for themselves twofold.” VanOrman said.