By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Well-known for their “Shop with a Hero” event each Christmas, the Village of Oxford Police do a tremendous job of taking care of our local children.
On Tuesday, October 6, the officers performed another good deed, dropping off outdoor sports equipment, such as kickballs, footballs, and basketballs, at Daniel Axford and Oxford Elementary Schools.
This donation was made possible through a new Meijer manager, Michelle Cojanu.
“One of the new managers at Meijer contacted me and asked, ‘Would you be willing to take a $500 gift card and use it for the schools?’” Police Chief Mike Solwold shared of how this interaction unfolded.
“I said, ‘I think you reached the right guy, absolutely. I have two elementary schools here in the village, I’ll reach out to them and ask them what they need, and we’ll go and get it.’
“And by all means, it doesn’t have to be just Daniel Axford or Oxford Elementary, those are just the two schools we have in the village. They can spread it out to the other schools or do whatever they need to do, those are just the two schools in our jurisdiction, so, that’s where we dropped them off. I just assume once they get them, they’ll talk to the other schools, figure out what the need is, and throw them a couple of balls, whatever they need to do.
“We just did the legwork, basically. She (Cojanu) called me and said, ‘Come up to customer service, we’ll have a card waiting for you to sign off on.’
“I called the principals and they told me because of COVID-19, they (the elementary students) are outside a lot. So, basically, the schools could use kickballs, footballs, basketballs, you know, outdoor sporting equipment.
“I told her that would be easy, that would be really fun. I grabbed one of my officers, we went up to Meijer and took the gift card, loaded up two shopping carts of all kinds of balls, we got everything from dodgeballs to soccer balls, and we were catching the eyes of some people as we went through the register.”
As is the case with Oxford’s middle and high school students, the 2020-21 academic year, while still young, has been unlike any before for the elementary schoolers.
This rather simple gesture, one the officers enjoyed completing, brightened the day of these youngsters, which is something the department places a great emphasis on.
“People love it when you’re doing things for kids, the community, it’s a home run,” Solwold said.
“Our goal here is to work with what you (have), in all different capacities. You never know what’s going to happen, I could get a call tomorrow and someone could ask me to do something and I’ll say, ‘We’ll give it a shot, we’ll make it happen.’ We have a great crew here, a lot of community-based officers.”
Cojanu also deserves credit for reaching out and setting the wheels in motion for this idea to donate to the schools. New to her position at Meijer, this idea made a positive, strong first impression, one that will stick with the department just down the road.
As for the “Shop with a Hero” event, a practice that has been occurring for at least 15 years now, the Oxford Police received a $1,500 donation from the Polly Ann Trail Management Council (PATMC) in August.
The PATMC had these excess funds from their extremely successful bottle and can return fundraiser in May, which ended up netting the trail $26,193.80.
Solwold, along with Trail Manager Linda Moran, was the brainpower behind the idea to hold that fundraiser and, with local businesses hit harder than usual by COVID-19 and the road construction, this donation will enable the department to spend $150 on ten local children in need this Christmas without having to solicit donations from these local establishments.
What can happen when a small town works together is a powerful thing and nowhere exemplifies that better than Oxford, Michigan.
By Teddy Rydquist