Springfield, Lakemore fill up cruisers for Christmas

The Suburbanite

Since 2006 the village of Lakemore and Springfield Township have been caring for each other in a variety of ways.

Springfield Police Officer Hunter Chapman and Explorer Patrick Gaffney collect items at Walmart during Fill A Cruiser.

This year, through the Springfield Cares organization, volunteers have been gearing up to make the best Christmas possible for some villagers and township residents who need a little extra help.

Under normal circumstances, boxes of food, toys, clothing and other needed items are specifically assembled to help support residents during the holidays. Residents and businesses adopt families, with donations of money or gift cards and help in other ways to make Christmas a little brighter.

This year, things will be different because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of residents coming to pick up their items, they will be driving through and receiving gift cards for needed items.

From left, Lakemore Police Chief Ken Ray, Darlene Haren of Springfield Cares, volunteer officer Bill Luplow, volunteer officer Emery Pitman, Lakemore officer Amanda Matthus and Lakemore officer Dylan Soisson outside the Dollar General as they collect donations for the community.

President of Springfield Cares Nancy Rodrigues said it is something they couldn’t do without the tremendous support they receive from the community.

“We had tremendous community support this year,” she said. The support was not only shown through businesses, schools, churches, and organizations but through the many individuals that donated during the annual Fill A Cruiser Program and in other ways.

Police officers from the village and township were overwhelmed with the response of those giving during the annual Fill-A-Cruiser program. Police officers hung out their “Help Wanted” signs to fill their cruisers with toys and food and collect money to support the Springfield Cares program.

Lakemore officers’ set up at Dollar General on Canton Road on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28 and were thrilled with the response and support they received from shoppers. The first cruiser of toys and food had already pulled out and they were in the process of filling the next one.

Springfield Police Officer Hunter Chapman, Sgt Joe Gaffney and explorer Patrick Gaffney collect donations at Walmart.

Springfield officers were also overwhelmed with the response they received at the Arlington Road Walmart. They also had a cruiser full and was ready to fill the next one. They were there for three days, November 27-29.

The number of cruisers filled to the roof is unknown, but it was exciting to see so many sharing and giving while we are in a pandemic. Lakemore Police Chief Ken Ray said it is unbelievable and heartwarming to experience.

Last year, the total in money collected from the Fill A Cruiser event was a little more than $6,500. This year, the departments together collected $10,500 in monetary donations. Springfield Police Sgt. Joe Gaffney said it is amazing how people have opened their hearts to give under these trying times.

Springfield Cares usually helps at least 60 families each year. Rodrigues said the Springfield Schools, parent groups, organizations and staff members help in many ways. As well as local churches which this year are doing gift card giving trees and helping Cares throught out the season.

Rodrigues said Springfield Cares is thankful to those who gave in many ways to fill this need in the community. She thanks all of those who participated in any way. Everyone pitched in during these trying times to help their neighbors.