In the spirit of the holiday season the Bellville Police Department is giving back to the community; introducing a new program they call ‘Shop with a Cop’ to residents Clear Fork Valley who are in need.
While new in format, the concept of giving dates back to a practice the Bellville Police have been providing to the community for years.
“It started several years back when several of us officers at the time wanted to do something for the holidays for folks who may be struggling,” Bellville Police Chief Ron Willey said. “At that time we pulled some donations together and helped out a couple of families to have a brighter Christmas. It was great and a wonderful experience for us and the families we helped.”
Following the initial success of the program, Willey and Bellville officers began accepting more donations from residents and businesses alike.
Eventually the donation effort evolved into a holiday practice that more community members wanted to get in on.
“I started getting calls from local residents and some businesses who wanted to donate to help with the program,” the police chief said.
Through word-of-mouth efforts, Bellville Police distributed the gifts to families throughout the Clear Fork Valley who needed extra support around the holiday season.
“Every year since we have been approached at the holidays with people wanting to help us help others,” Willey said. “At our highest point we helped 14 families in some form or another.”
Despite the department’s initial expectations, most families who the program benefitted were not asking for gifts for the holiday day season. They were asking for the essentials.
“Shockingly most were basic needs,” Willey said of the families involved. “They needed clothes, food, pots and pans, bed linens, winter coats, gloves, shoes and boots books for kids.”
The department gladly accepts donations from the community to help Bellville area families cover them in difficult times.
“One year we helped a single mother with two children” Willey said. “She was between jobs and very reluctant to ask for help. She was very appreciative for the community’s help with giving her children a Christmas they probably would not have had. The following year she had regained employment and was back on her feet and she came and donated for that year’s Christmas for other families.”
The initial donation program’s humble beginnings have grown to reflect the giving spirit of the Clear Fork Valley. Willey stated that those who wanted to help with the program eventually out grew those who the program was designed to assist.
“During last year’s Christmas there was almost more help than families, which in itself is awesome,” he said. “We want to help all that we can in need.”
In order to grow and shift the program, Willey and other department members have consulted the help of area businesses.
“I thought that this year might be a good time to change it up a little bit and do a “Shop With A Cop” with local children, he said. “Skip Hursh from Mid-Ohio Roofing, who have been providing support from the early stages of this program was on board and wanted to make a donation to kick it off.”
‘Shop with a Cop’ will begin this holiday season, and the department is reaching out to area residents and businesses for donations.
The number of children who benefit from the Bellville Police program is determined by donations.
For more information or to donate to the program contact the Bellville Police Department at 419-886-3801.
Skip Hursh from Mid-Ohio Roofing talks with Bellville Police Chief Ron Willey.
Skip Hursh from Mid-Ohio Roofing donates a check to Bellville Police Chief Ron Willey. Also pictured from left: Joe McKenna, Skip Hursh, Sara Hursh and Jerry Sansom.
Reach Jones on Twitter @Bellville_Jones or via email at [email protected]