Leeds Police Department Provides Christmas for a Family in Need | About five years ago, Leeds Police Lieutenant Wilbert Griffin came up with the idea of the police department sponsoring a family for Christmas. Each year since, Lt. Griffin has been able to get donations to help with the Christmas program. Lehigh Cement and Shops of Grand River have been gracious to donate every single year. The annual process of choosing just the right family includes an annual meeting with Leeds City School counselors for Lt. Griffin to get recommendations on a family to adopt for Christmas. Criteria includes the family must be a single parent Leeds resident and have the need. The family also cannot be recipients of any other outreach program. Lt. Griffin really looks for children that have the greatest need. Once donations are confirmed, he and City Magistrate Laura Roberts go shopping.
“He goes shopping just so he can push the cart…lol…but I think he actually likes shopping,” says Roberts. “My role is simple. I get to play the elf. I pick out the gifts and wrap them; then, the two of us deliver the gifts and food on Christmas Eve.”
The children receive toys, clothes and shoes as gifts, and food is also provided. There have been a couple of years where the need was so great and the family was larger so Lt. Griffin and Roberts bought gifts and food from their own pockets. They do what they can with the donations that are received, but could always use more!
Last year, the family sponsored was a single mother with eight children. The family was in great need of not only Christmas gifts, but had no furniture or kitchen equipment. Even with donations from Lehigh and Grand River, it was not enough so once again, Lt. Griffin and Roberts donated from their own pockets. The Leeds High School Band Booster Board also donated gifts to meet needs of that family. The children were given toys, clothes and shoes. The family was also presented with a television, DVD player, movies, some furniture, cookware, dishes, and other household items.
The need in our community is greater than what you can imagine, especially this year, when so many have lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The police department would really love to sponsor multiple families, but more donations are needed. Everyone, whether an individual or business, has been affected by the pandemic so it is hard to ask for donations.
One of the best things about this program is that Leeds Police Department is able to give back to the community. During these dark times, law enforcement officers across the country are portrayed as terrible people in the media. We want to show our community that our officers are not terrible people. They are human beings that have bleeding hearts like the rest of us. They truly care about our community, especially, the children in our community.
Griffin said he is very excited about the recipient this year with a sweet little girl being raised by her grandparent who has a disability. “It just breaks my heart when children are having to be raised by their grandparents for whatever reason. I really want to do something special for her, just like I would like to do with every child. If I can help one child have a very Merry Christmas, that’s what it’s all about!”
Griffin went on to say that when he was at his lowest point during the loss of his wife so many people helped him and encouraged him. He really wants to pay it forward and continue to give back.
This project would not be possible without the support of our City Leaders. Mayor Miller and council members are always very supportive. As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago when the department was not able to get enough donations to help the family in need, Roberts reached out to Mayor Miller who immediately authorized the use of the community program funds to help the family. During the City finance meeting last week, Council members Johnny Dutton and Eric Turner, who serve on the finance committee, did not hesitate to approve the program to continue this year. They both praised the program and made sure the department knew they had their support! Mayor and Council members get as excited as the police department does for this program!
Roberts said when they pull up to the house to deliver gifts, the joy and excitement on the faces of the children is definitely their reward, as well as seeing the relief in the parents’ eyes.
“We owe a huge thank you to Lehigh Cement and Shops of Grand River for their financial support every year as well as our City leaders for their support,“ she said. “We would also like to thank the teachers and counselors at the schools who help us each year with this program.”