Dowagiac sorority donates $1,000 to Shop With a Cop program

DOWAGIAC — A local sorority gave the Dowagiac Police Department an early Christmas gift on Friday.

Members of Xi Delta Mu, a chapter of Beta Sigma Phi International, presented Dowagiac Fire Department deputy chief Robert Smith and Dowagiac director of public safety Steven Grinnewald with a gift of $1,000 for the Dowagiac VFW’s annual Shop With a Cop program at Bow Wow Bakery & Bath, 145 S. Front St.

“This is huge,” Grinnewald said. “We did not expect this much. We are extremely grateful.”

This is the 15th year the police and fire departments have teamed up with the Dowagiac VFW for the project. When Shopko, one of the program’s primary sponsors, went out of business a few years ago, Grinnewald wanted the program to continue.

Last year, Shop With a Cop sponsored two families and was able to purchase gifts and food on their behalf.

“This year what we thought we would do is try to get a few more families involved,” Grinnewald said. “Instead of purchasing gifts, we thought about providing food at Christmas dinner for needy families and some food to last them for a few weeks.”

According to Dowagiac City Manager Secretary and Xi Delta Mu member Bobbie Jo Hartline, the donation was the result of the sorority’s latest service project.

“We do a service project each month,” she said. “Typically it is something that we can fund on our own each month. We’ll bring it to the meeting and then we deliver it to whoever we’re trying to benefit, whether it’s a food pantry or the school. At the end of the year, we all took into consideration what we want to help fund and we instantly said we want to help Shop With a Cop.”

After talking with Grinnewald about helping the program, the sorority sold $1 raffle tickets for five handmade baskets, each featuring an assortment of items including gift cards, candies, wine and more. Participants who bought five raffle tickets received an extra ticket for free.

Griinnewald and Smith were asked to draw names and Ray Klomes and his family won three baskets while Beth Ferry and Fran Kidman each received a basket.

The police department will contact local churches next week about recommending families in need, Grinnewald said. 

“At some point, we’ll go out and do our shopping and certainly before Christmas, we’ll deliver the items in our police cars and fire trucks.”

Like many fundraising programs this year, Shop With a Cop has been met with challenges this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The dunk tank at the annual Summer in The City event, one of the departments’ primary fundraising events, was canceled along with Summer In The City. Grinnewald has been able to recoup some funds this year with the department’s No Shave November.

“The officers are required to pay to be able to grow a beard,” he said. “We extended that into December this year, so they paid twice.”

The fire department has been raising money with fundraisers of its own and have pledged to match the police department’s fundraising efforts. 

“At this point, we’re looking at about $850 dollars from our fundraisers,” Griinnewald said. “Xi Delta Mu’s gift will give us close to $2,000 total. They just made it to where a lot more families are going to get some help from us.”

The opportunity to participate in events that bring light to the community is a treat Grinnewald enjoys.

“It’s great showing up somewhere and not trying to clear up a problem. Trying to give some things to help people versus showing up when something bad has happened. It really feels good to see the smiles on their faces and hear the ‘thank yous’. It really means a lot so we’re glad to do it.”

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