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Christmas in July: Children's lemonade stand helps fund police Christmas charity program

DeKALB – This past weekend, three DeKalb boys raised $100 by selling lemonade.

They assembled and colored the lemonade stand their grandma purchased for them and sold pre-packaged Capri Sun lemonade, which allowed the drinks to be handled hygienically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks were worn and hand sanitizer was available for customers.

Instead of keeping the money they raised for themselves, the three boys, sons of a DeKalb police officer, donated the money to Heroes and Helpers, a program of the DeKalb Police Department’s Police Benevolent and Protective Association (PBPA). They used some extra money they raised for candy, cookies and snacks for the police officers. The boys’ family wanted the donation to be anonymous.

The PBPA’s Heroes and Helpers program, which used to be known as Shop with a Cop, allows children to have the opportunity for a one-on-one experience with a police officer, walking around the store aisles of Target to choose Christmas presents for themselves and their family. The presents they choose are wrapped for their family’s Christmas gift exchange.

Each year, between 70 and 100 children participate in the program. Children are recommended for the program by social workers and school principals.

“How many children we can help is dependent on donations,” said Sgt. Chad McNett, supervisor of DPD’s community relations team. “We take donations of any amount, from $3 that kids bring in in piggybanks to businesses donating hundreds of dollars. There’s always more children, more families we can help.”

McNett said that Heroes and Helpers’ “shopping experience is positive for the children and for us [police officers], too.”

“Usually if someone meets a police officer that is helping them, it’s during a traumatic experience,” McNett said. “During the program, children can spend quality time with a police officer, get to know them and talk. It’s a positive interaction for us, too, because we’re not helping during a crisis. It’s a happy, pleasant environment.”

McNett said that after the success of the children’s lemonade stand, a drive-up fundraiser is being planned.

“We’d like to take the idea, do it on a bigger scale and get more people involved,” he said. “People, even young kids with lemonade stands are willing to help. Year after year after year, they come out and are willing to support [Heroes and Helpers]. I think it shows how important this program is and how beneficial it is to families in town.”

If you would like to learn more about DeKalb Police Department’s Heroes and Helpers program, contact Sgt. Chad McNett at 815-748-8439. Any amount is appreciated, and no donation is too small. Anyone who donates $100 can submit the name of a child to be paired up with an officer for the event. Checks can be made out to DeKalb PB&PA. Donations can be dropped off or mailed to the DeKalb Police Department, 700 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, Illinois 60115.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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