Honor Credit Union donates $750 to Shop With A Hero program

Published 1:38 pm Friday, November 25, 2022

DOWAGIAC — The Dowagiac Police and Fire Departments were surprised with a $750 donation from Honor Credit Union for its annual Shop with a Hero program.  

Each year, the departments contact Dowagiac Union Schools to nominate students to participate in the program, which allows students – escorted by local police and firefighters – to purchase gifts and food for their families in December.

“I love how our local law enforcement and fire department work so closely together and wrap their loving arms around Dowagiac and surrounding communities,” said Honor Credit Union community assistant vice president Janie Reifenberg. “Honor Credit Union’s community assistant vice president Janie Reifenberg is passionate about partnering with both of these organizations, while ultimately making sure our local families and children are taken care of during this time of the year. The surprise element gives us such a warm and wonderful feeling to be able to show our support of what great organizations like this are doing.”

Dowagiac Public Safety Department Administrative Assistant Michell Outlaw meets with each nominated family to go over the “needs” (coats, boots, hats, gloves, diapers, etc.) and the “wants.” 

Thanks to donations from the community, the DPSD has been able to provide Christmas Dinner with approximately two weeks’ worth of food to get families through the holidays. In 2021, it received an extra donation and was able to purchase bicycles for each student.

The program’s funding campaign begins annually at Summer in the City where police officers and firefighters sit in the “Dunk Tank”. Later in the year there is No-Shave November, where, for $25 each, officers and firefighters challenge each other to see who can grow the best beard or mustache. 

Shop with a Hero starts the day with breakfast at the Firehouse. The children then board a Coach Bus and receive a lights and siren escort through the City and toward Niles Walmart, where police and firefighters go shopping with their students and have fun.

After shopping, all parties head back to the Fire Department to wrap gifts, eat lunch and challenge each other in Minute to Win It games before families join us to pick up their child, gifts and food. 

“This program solely relies on police firefighters and community donations,” Outlaw said. “It is a great way to interact with the students and families in a positive environment.”