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'You're my hero'


Orion police, 911 operators and firefighters take 34 kids shopping



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Officer Chris Mires shows his shopping buddy, 11, a football. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio (click for larger version)
December 16, 2009 - The Meijer store in Oxford was filled with police officers and firefighters Dec. 9, but they weren't there to bust bad guys or pull anybody out of a burning building.

Instead, they were there to make sure the current economic climate didn't prevent local kids, ages 3-14, from having Christmas gifts for themselves and their families.

The program, "Shop with a Hero," paired boys and girls from Orion, Oxford, Addison and Brandon with 65 cops, firefighters and 911 operators.

Of those, the vast majority -- 34 -- were Lake Orion area heroes shopping with lake Orion area kids.

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According to police Chief Jerry Narsh, the Lake Orion Police Department was able to sponsor 12 Orion children in last year's first-annual "Shop with a Hero" event.

"This year, we asked the Orion community to help us sponsor 20 kids, a lofty goal considering the stressed economy in Michigan," Narsh said.

"Local businesses and residents responded in hero form of their own by providing funds to allow the LOPD to take 34 children shopping.

The response was so impressive, we were forced to ask the Orion Township Fire Department to provide us with additional heroes."

In all, 19 Lake Orion Police Officers and 911 Operators, along with 15 Orion Township firefighters, volunteered this year.

Meijer provided a pre-shopping dinner to all the kids and volunteer heroes, and it wasn't long after the pizza was polished off that the aisles filled with the sounds of excited children, each equipped with a $150 gift card, courtesy of many Lake Orion businesses and private citizens who, Narsh said, "dug deep in their pockets to ensure every child has a Merry Christmas morning."

"The Orion area has once again risen to the need of the community," Narsh said. "The Shop with a Hero Program would not succeed without their heroic giving."

-C.J. Carnacchio contributed to this story

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