The group gathers once a month and visits the officers of the 102nd Precinct, bringing them lunch, drawings, and “thank you” cards.
“It’s been an amazing experience for the kids,” says co-founder Tracey Gallagher. “They get to meet the officers and relate to them as individuals.”
The idea was hatched at the annual National Night Out Against Crime event, which this past August was held locally at Victory Field.
That night, the kids were treated to rides around the field in a police car and afterwards, Gallagher’s son Jaron said it would be nice if they could do something for the officers in return, as a way to thank them for all that they do.
Gallagher was inspired by her friend Marie O’Kane Lanza, who would frequently drop into the precinct with coffee and donuts.
She reached out to a few other moms, Keshia Rodriguez-Roopnarine and Nicole Riker, and found that their children were also excited by the idea of doing something for the police.
They then reached out to the 102nd Precinct’s Community Affairs officers, Jose Severino and Edwin Martinez, and explained what they wanted to do.
“They were really touched, especially since this was being driven by the children,” Gallagher said. “And so we scheduled our first visit.”
That first visit included about a dozen children. Officer Martinez gave them a brief tour of the station house, and in return the kids dropped off cards and drawings for all the officers.
Afterwards, they all went to the parking lot and took turns riding around with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Many of the other officers and detectives came over to greet the kids and to thank them for the coffee and donuts they dropped off.
Since then, the group has been paying a visit to the precinct once a month and have begun to build a relationship.
“We want the kids to feel safe, like we did 40 years ago when we knew a police officer we could go to if we had a problem,” says Gallagher. “We hope that if they are part of this, they’ll get to know the police and if they need help they won’t be afraid to go to them.”
The most recent visit to the precinct included a conversation about bullying.
“Officer Martinez is very engaging,” Gallagher said. “He’s able to talk to the kids on their level and they open up to him. One of the kids was able to share his experiences with being bullied and got some advice.”
Over the past few months, they’ve dropped off a variety of treats on a monthly basis, including fruit, chocolate and, this past month, a catered Thanksgiving dinner from Manor Delicatessen.
“I can’t thank Margie Schmidt, of Schmidt’s Candies, and Mark Gallagher of Manor Deli enough,” Gallagher said. “Once we explained what we wanted to do, they were totally on board and so very generous.”
What started as a small gathering of just a few parents and children has blossomed as others have become aware of the group. This recent Thanksgiving visit included children bringing thank you cards from PS 254, PS 306 and the Girl Scouts.
“We have a core group of kids that go every month, but we want other kids to come,” Gallagher said. “If a parent is interested in having their child attend, they should email me at ProjectDirector1@aol.com.”
Two simple words: thank you. So easy to say but not said often enough.
This Thanksgiving as we settle down to a nice meal, we’ll pause a moment to give thanks for all that we have, but we should take a moment to thank those who are sacrificing time with their families so that we can be with ours in safety.
And so, to all of those in the NYPD and FDNY, all of the EMTs, nurses and doctors, and especially to all of those who serve our country, we thank you and pray for your safety.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!