The COVID-19 pandemic did not harden the hearts of area residents. They were more generous than ever donating to the Jackson Police Department’s Community Christmas Drive.
“This is the most [toys] we have ever had, and it was in the midst of COVID,” said JPD Administrative Assistant Rachel Coleman, “The community has been really amazing.”
The Police Department could not put out as many collection boxes for toys as in years past, because a lot of banks and restaurants have closed lobbies and dining rooms. But the community made up for it by donating cash, which the police department used to purchase toys.
In all, more than $12,000 was raised, enough to fill the new Community Room in the new Police Station with toys.
This was enough to serve about 100 needy families with a total of 200 children in the Jackson R-2 School District.
Instead of lining up at the door and waiting to receive their toys as in years past, parents this year registered their children and were assigned an appointed time to arrive in the parking lot. Officers brought out toys to their cars. The toys selected were based upon their children’s interests (which were learned when they registered).
It was discovered delivery by appointment was much more efficient and less tiring than having people wait in line. There was a steady flow of people coming all day on Friday, where in years past there would be a big rush when the doors opened and a few staggered busy times throughout the day.
About four years ago, the “Toy Drive” was changed to “Community Christmas Drive,” showing it’s not just about children. Help is given to other vulnerable members of the community as well.
Walmart gift cards are given to Senior Center drivers who deliver meals. The drivers give those gift cards to patrons who need a little extra financial help.
Police Officers may hand out gift cards to needy people they come across as random acts of kindness.
“We help the youngest, and we help the oldest,” Coleman said. And now they help some in between. “A couple of families will be surprised when I take them around shopping,” she said. “We’ll meet on Monday or Tuesday and get groceries and clothes. Why not help pay for medicine and food?”
Coleman realizes there may be some needy people whom they can’t help, because they don’t sign up. “A lot of time pride gets in the way.”