FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- A generous Secret Santa recently met with a Fort Smith police officer to help the department give others a merry Christmas.
The anonymous donor gave several $50 gift cards to the department and requested that the officers pass them out to people in need during their shifts.
Officers have spent the past few days looking for opportunities to give the cards to people who could put the cards to good use. Afterward, the officers wrote a short account of the encounters.
Here are the sweet stories:
I saw an older gentleman with a broken arm in a cast walking down Phoenix Avenue near the Fire station at 2400 Phoenix Avenue. He approached the free pantry box located by the Fire Department and began to put some of the food in a grocery bag he had with him. I made contact with 'Jimmy' as he was getting food. I told him I had a $50 gift card to Walmart that I was handing out to people that looked like they could use a little extra help at Christmas time on behalf of the Fort Smith Police. I handed it to him. He took it and asked in disbelief "This has $50 on it?" I told him again that it did and he said 'Oh, thank the Lord!' and appeared to be relieved and grateful. As I was getting back in my patrol car, he told me 'Thank Y'all, God bless.'
I stopped a car for speeding at 700 Riverfront. Kyle is a father of 4. He works two jobs and his wife also works. I provided him the gift card along with a warning citation. He thanked me, shook my hand, and gave me a hug. He said it was a blessing.
I stopped a vehicle at 4817 Kelley Hwy. I made contact with James. He had a child in the vehicle with him. I explained that he did nothing wrong, but I wanted to provide him with a $50 gift card from a Secret Santa. He told me that he reads about this stuff happening but never thought it would happen to him. He said that he knew it was only $50 but it would be a big help. He started throwing his hands up and kept repeating "thank you thank you". He told me that he would thank us on FaceBook.
I met Tom at 2425 Zero (Walmart). I know Tom because the loss prevention officer had recently told me that Tom is homeless and stranded at Walmart due to car trouble. Tom cares for his homeless wife and they live in their car. I have never seen Tom "beg" or ask anyone for anything. I gave Tom an information card last week to assist with locating housing. Today I approached Tom and explained that I know he and his wife are struggling financially. I gave Tom the $50 Walmart gift card and he was very appreciative. He shook my hand (one of the hardest handshakes I have ever had) and with tears in his eyes told me "thank you".
I gave my gift card to a gentlemen I took a stolen vehicle report from. His name is Adam and he has 7 children and is in the military. I was told thank you by him.
This morning I saw Brandy at the Hydration Station on Wheeler. Brandy is a single mother of 2 small boys and she works 2 full time jobs, 6 days a week to make ends meet and care for her kids. I gave her one of the Wal-Mart gift cards and she immediately started crying. She hugged me and thanked me over and over. I know this gift really helped this hard working young.mother.
I observed a mini van with two small children in the back seat. I initiated a vehicle stop. I introduced myself and explained about the generous Secret Santa. The driver's name was Tran and he was confused at first but once I explained to him what this was about, he and his wife began to cry and thanked me. Tran tried to hug me through the window. I shook his hand and he began hugging my arm.
I initiated a vehicle stop on a silver car with 2 small children in the back seat. It was driven by Amber and I explained the Secret Santa donation. She immediately started crying and telling me thank you.
I waited at the fuel pump area near 2425 Zero. I first met with Tami, a disabled military veteran. When she pulled up to the pump, I thanked her for her military service and I told her I was going to put her fuel on the gift card. Tami was very thankful and shocked. I pumped $30.47 worth of fuel and told her "Merry Christmas". I next met with Larry, a retired Vietnam veteran. When Larry pulled up to the pump I thanked him for his military service. I pumped $19.53 worth of fuel. I told Larry "Merry Christmas" and he was very thankful.
I was in the gas station at N. 14th and Grand Ave. While inside I made contact with a father (James), his 4 year old son (Elijah) and daughter (Sadie). Well I should say they made contact with me. Elijah ran over to me with a big smile and gave me a hug. I then proceeded to speak with Elijah and Sadie for several minutes. When they checked out I gave the gift card to James and told him to get his children something they need for Christmas. James was so happy, surprised and thankful for this gift from the Secret Santa.
I was in the area of Midland and Division when I noticed a red van sitting in a parking lot. I could see that a side window was broken out of the van. I could see the driver sitting inside trying to keep warm. I made contact with the driver Joseph, and asked him what happened with his window. He said it was busted out a couple of weeks ago and he cannot afford to get it replaced yet. He said it cost $110 to replace. I gave him the gift card and told him to buy what he needs at Walmart and save that money to replace his window. He was shocked at the gift and shook my hand several times.
I was given one of the Secret Santa cards and was able to pass a blessing on to young female in school. She has been abandoned by her mother and is living in the Children's Shelter. She has also been recently made aware that she is pregnant. She is a quiet child but her face did light up when she saw that she was receiving the card.
I made contact with Violet at her home. The Police Department has come in contact with her in the past due to one of her children having some issues. She has found it almost impossible to get him the help that he needs. I knew she worked at a motel here in town and attempted to make contact with her there and I was informed she no longer worked there. This made me want to find her even more. I was able to track her down at her home with the help of dispatch. When I told her I tried to contact her at her work she informed me she was fired right before Thanksgiving and has been unable to find employment. Violet is a single mother of two children. I told her we received an anonymous donation of Wal-Mart gift cards to hand out to those that may need them. I handed her the gift card and told her there was $50.00 on it and she immediately covered her face and started to cry. I told her I know it can be tough around the holidays and I hoped that this could help. She gave me multiple hugs and thanked me over and over. On a happy note she informed me she has two job interviews today.
I remembered a female I have dealt with several times who has several children. Breanna is raising the children by herself as the father to the children was abusive with her. I stopped by Breanna's residence today and was greeted by her at the door. Breanna stated she remembered me from past incidents. I stated to her I'm glad I'm getting to speak to you in these circumstances and I have several items I would like to give to you. I handed her a bag of groceries and some rolls which were recently provided to the Police Department to pass along to people in need. I then said I also have another item id like to give you. I handed her the gift card and stated this has fifty dollars on it. I believe you can use this for you and your family. Breanna started crying and said I can't believe this, thank you so much!
I met with Tami, a grandmother of five in Wal-mart. I noticed she had all her grandchildren with her and a basket filled with groceries. I gave Tami the gift card and at first she tried to say no thank you. I told her I would not take "No" for an answer, and she accepted with tears in her eyes...she gave me a hug and said I was a nice man.
I went down on the south side of town to an apartment complex where I had made contact with an elderly female named Betty on a previous case. Betty does not move around well and has to be on full-time oxygen. I knocked on her door and Betty was happy to see me again. I told Betty that I had brought her some more food as well as a Secret Santa $50 gift card to Walmart. Betty was very happy about the food and the gift. Betty said her daughter had just used their last bit of money on some prescriptions and they really needed this.
I gave my gift card to a lady named Penny that lives in my patrol area. She has 2 kids and is a single mother. She works 2 part time jobs and has been struggling to get Christmas presents for her children. She was overjoyed and was very thankful for the gift card. She already had toys in mind she would buy her children.
I located a young lady I've known for sometime now. She has been in and out of foster care and is placed with different family members often. We had a conversation about Christmas and she said she is currently living with an uncle and her father is unemployed again. Her mother lives out of state and is struggling to make ends meet. I gave her the card and told her to have a Merry Christmas. She was very excited and will use the money for the family. She expressed her gratitude with a huge hug.
While at the store getting a drink, I struck up a conversation with a young lady, Amber. When asked about Christmas, she said she wasn't ready for it because she had not finished shopping for her kids. I gave the shopping card to her to help out. She was very thankful and shook my hand.