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PPD fundraiser helps community

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

Peru Police Department’s Pack the Cruiser fundraising event on June 30 helped nearly 50 Miami County families.

The event, hosted by Kroger, brought out many Miami County residents who wished to purchase groceries or Kroger gift cards for families in need throughout the county.

People who donated not only got to choose which cruiser they wanted to fill, but they had the opportunity to take a photo with a few of the Peru Police Officers helping with the fundraiser.

The purpose of the event was to help feed children in need over the summer season.

PPD sees the need in Miami County and realizes that some families are just down on their luck and could use some help getting back on their feet, said Peru Police Chief Mike Meeks. 

“Our hearts go out to them, and we want to make sure they are taken care of during the summer time,” Meeks said. “We just maybe want to fill that gap and help wherever we can.”

According to Kroger Manager of Corporate Affairs and Media Spokeman for the Central Division Eric Halvorson, there are many communities where hunger is impacting families and the grocery store chain notices the struggle people are going through.

“I just think more and more people are sensitive to the hunger needs of their community,” Halvorson said. “We see it as our primary cause to address hunger in any place you find a Kroger store.”

Altogether, the donations filled 9 police cruisers from top to bottom with groceries, giving aid to 49 families and 128 children, according to Officer Lee Mitchell.

Officers took nearly two days to sort through the donations and box them up for each family. PPD coordinated with local schools and the Department of Child Services to configure the list of families whom they delivered to on Tuesday.

How many groceries each family received was correlated with how many children they had, according to Mitchell.

Each box had about the same items in it so every family was receiving a variation of groceries.

While the task of sorting, boxing and delivering was difficult, the PPD plans to host another Pack the Cruiser event in the future.

“I think we’ll definitely do it again,” Mitchell said. “It was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it.”

Overall, Mitchell and Halvorson both said they were very pleased with how the event turned out and appreciated all of the support from the community.

“Everybody was really receptive to it,” Mitchell said.

“I’m grateful to the people of Peru for being as generous as they were,” Halvorson said.

The PPD even had a few residents who only came out to grocery shop for the fundraiser so they could donate to families in need.

The fundraiser was able to help not only Peru families, but Miami County families from the Howard County/Miami County line all the way to Roann, according to Mitchell.

“We’re just thrilled that people care enough to come out and make a donation to care for their neighbors,” Halvorson said. “It just means so much to us to support the hunger relief wherever we can.”

Even though Mitchell was unsure about how the community would perceive the event he couldn’t be more grateful for their support and donations.

“I think the community went above and beyond,” Mitchell said.

The Pack the Cruiser event was also a success in that it not only helped numerous Miami County families, but it also showed support for the local PPD, according to Halvorson.

“It’s feeding people and showing support for the police officers who care so much for the people of Peru in this case,” Halvorson said.