The Power of Community this Holiday Season
There’s nothing as heartwarming as seeing a little kid, whose families have fallen on hard times, open a gift that’s just for them over the holiday season. It’s this very desire to bring joy to less fortunate children which is the driving force behind the Cleveland Police Foundation’s (CPF) long standing tradition of giving toys to children and families who are in need in our community at Christmas time.
Here we catch up with Captain Keith Sulzer, liaison for the CPF and a passionate advocate of community relations, to find out a little more about the CPF, their impact over the holiday season and what it means to work with organizations like Skylight.
Tell us about the impact the Cleveland Police Foundation make in our community over the holiday season
One of the highlights for us is our Second District annual Christmas Party (which this year was held on December 10th) where we welcome over 200 children and their families to join us for food, face painting and crafts. Santa drops in, of course, and gives each kid a toy. It’s a wonderful event which embodies the true meaning of the Christmas spirit. We’ve gotten to know many families over the last ten years and have developed good relationships with them. We’ve seen kids grow up and then they come back to help out at the party and they refer other families.
Our giving doesn’t stop at the party and often we make our biggest impact when our police officers hand out toys when they are out in their cars or the street. When they spot a kid or family in need, they present a toy and start building a relationship with that family. Just the other day, I had two Game Boys (which had been kindly donated) and I had been looking for the right family to give these to. I happened to be outside of the Courts and saw a young dad leaving with two children so I ran back to my car, grabbed the Game Boys and chased after them. When I presented them, the children knew exactly what they were and were so delighted. Their father started crying and gave me a big hug. It’s moments like these when a family just needs something to pick them up. A simple act like this lets them know that there is someone out there who cares.
What other outreach programs to the CPF get involved in throughout the year?
Our mission is to strengthen bonds between members of the Cleveland Division of Police and the citizens it serves. We want to build bridges, create opportunities for dialogue and establish relationships. We are always looking for ways to be able to help people - it’s what community policing is all about.
We support outreach programs such as Cops for Kids Fishing Outings, Youth Athletics Programs, and Little Free Libraries Literacy Program. We also raise money to support groups like the Cleveland Police Museum, Annual Greater Cleveland Police Memorial Commemoration, Cleveland Police Pipes & Drums, Honor Guard and Friends of the Cleveland Mounted Police.
There’s so much going on throughout the year from organized events to our police officers responding to impromptu situations where money and support is needed by families. We are there to help.
What does it mean to you to get the support of other organizations in the community, like Skylight?
The support from organizations in our community is tremendous. It means we can offer more support and it takes away the stress of raising money. Skylight’s Holiday Toy Drive has just snowballed over the last few years and this year we are delighted that they have collected just over 1,500 toys. Our Second District Community Relations Committee recently recognized Skylight at our annual awards ceremony for their outstanding involvement and dedication to the citizens of the 2nd district.
The other positive outcome is that other organizations see the great work that Skylight is doing and they want to get involved too. We have had 10 other organizations approach us wanting to help. It becomes contagious and our community becomes stronger!
Before we finish, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Paul Fox, Mark Owens, Jeff Zemito, Jonathan Goldston and the team at Skylight for their efforts. They didn’t have to get involved but they did - I guess they have got the “bug” too!
To find out further information on the Cleveland Police Foundation, please visit http://www.clevelandpolicefoundation.org/.
If you haven't already seen it, check out the highlights of our Skylight Foundation Holiday Toy Drive here.