By Jim Newell
The Lake Orion Police Association’s (LOPA) annual Shop with a Hero is one of the community’s biggest charitable evenings, with police officers and first responders shopping with 80 to 100 or more kids at a local Target store for presents.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, there was no chance of having that many people shop in-store, so the police association to alter its usual plans and find safe, socially distanced means to make sure some kids in Lake Orion who may not have had a merry Christmas get some presents under the tree.
Lake Orion Police Officer Ray Hammond organized this year’s Shop with a Hero and said the police association will help bring smiles to the faces of 34 kids this year.
“It’s not quite what we had in the past but at least we were able to do something this year,” Hammond said. “We’ve actually had a few generous donors come to us.
The police association canvassed Blanche Sims Elementary to get recommendations from the school on kids whose families need a little extra help this year, said Hammond, who is vice-president of the Lake Orion Police Association.
“It was important to us to try to do something this year. So, the next best thing (instead of the larger Shop with a Hero event) was to gather names and wishes and fulfill those,” Hammond said.
After getting wish lists from the kids, 2020 Lake Orion grad Becca Hamilton volunteered to shop online for the presents. Sean and Ryan Hammond – Ray’s sons – and Becca then spent six hours on Saturday wrapping gifts.
On Monday, a half dozen parents visited the Blanche Sims parking lot to pick up their presents from the LOPD tent.
The LOPD officers then took the remaining presents, divided up into teams and delivered those gifts to families’ homes for porch drops – what has become a necessary method of delivery in the COVID-19 era.
This is just a really good event and it’s an annual thing that I think is so important for the community. It’s a good event to give back to kids that may not have the same amount of presents under the tree as any other kid would,” said Becca Hamilton. “I think it’s just really important to spread Christmas cheer.”
Ryan Hammond volunteered to help with Shop with a Hero to help his dad and the kids in the community.
“I was a Shop with a Hero kid back when I was in elementary. It helps me give back to the community. I’ve been volunteering with Shop with a Hero for the last three years and it’s just been a blast every year to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they see their gifts,” Ryan said.
To donate to the Lake Orion Police Association, call 248-693-8321 or mail donations to the Lake Orion Police Association at 21 E. Church St., Lake Orion, MI 48362.