December 18, 2013 - By C.J. Carnacchio
Oxford Leader Editor
Police officers and firefighters do a lot of brave and valuable work throughout the year serving the communities they're sworn to protect.
But there's one night when they truly shine as caring and selfless individuals.
That's during the annual "Shop with a Hero" at the Oxford Meijer.
Last week, local public safety personnel helped play Santa Claus to 85 deserving children from Orion, Oxford, Addison, and Brandon.
Each child received a $150 gift card, some of which were courtesy of Meijer, to spend on Christmas gifts for themselves, parents and siblings. The smiling kids were proudly escorted through the store by a variety of heroes wearing crisp uniforms and badges of silver and gold.
Heroes came from the Orion, Oxford, Addison, and Brandon fire departments, the Oakland County Sheriff's Department, the Lake Orion and Oxford village police departments, the Sylvan Lake Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Troy office and the 1775th U.S. Army Military Police.
Prior to the shopping experience, the kids were treated to a delicious dinner.
After the shopping was done, Meijer gave the family of each child a holiday meal to take home and enjoy. It consisted of turkey, corn, potatoes, stuffing, gravy and sticky buns.
The nine children who shopped with Oxford firefighters got some added bonuses.
Each child received an extra $75 to shop with while each of their families, a total of four, was given $250 in non-perishable food items, plus a $300 gift card to be spent on perishable groceries.
It should be noted that Meijer gives each department two $150 gift cards for two kids.
The Oxford Firefighters Association paid for the other seven children using funds from the two-day boot drive it held in November.
This year's boot drive raised a little over $10,000, which is amazing considering last year's fund-raiser collected approximately $3,600 and the 2011 effort raised about $4,200.
Kids who shopped with the Oxford firefighters received another treat – they got to ride to and from the store in real fire trucks.
Sure, Santa's sleigh has flying reindeer and jingle bells, but it doesn't have the flashing lights and ear-splitting sirens that kids love.