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Grand Rapids Police Department and Jaycees help make the holidays a bit brighter for BGC Club Members

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Officer Mike Harris helping Club Members find some great toys for their family members.

Officer Mike Harris helping Club Members find some great toys for their family members. /Sara Schneider

Officer Bob Cervantes and Sgt. Pelosky taking Meijer by storm with their group of Club Members.

Officer Bob Cervantes and Sgt. Pelosky taking Meijer by storm with their group of Club Members. /Sara Schneider

Sgt. Pelosky brainstorming gift ideas with Club Members.

Sgt. Pelosky brainstorming gift ideas with Club Members. /Sara Schneider

The holidays are a special time that bring families together and put smiles on the faces of those awaiting their presents. This year, two events made the holidays a bit brighter for some of Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth (BGCGRYC) Club Members.

The first event, “Shop with a Hero,” took place at the Knapp's Corner Meijer. Local cops including Sgt. Pelosky and Club Officers Bob Cervantes and Mike Harris took 20 Club Members on a $50 shopping spree. The youth were allowed to spend the money on gifts for their families. Each child brought a list of their family members and already had several gift ideas spewing about in their heads.

Other Meijers do similar events and Store Director Scott Flanagan loved the idea of having the Club Members shop with police officers; he even wants to make it an annual event. When he approached Steil Club Director Erin Crison with the event, she could not agree more.

“We participated in ‘Shop with a Hero’ because we feel strongly that youth need to create relationships with police officers and see them positively,” said Crison.

“Yeah, we want to show them that the cops are the good guys,” said Officer Cervantes.

It was a great honor to have Sgt. Pelosky participate in the shopping spree. The Club Members loved racing through the aisles with him and the other cops. The officers were also a great gift brainstorming team for the youth.

"I used to be a community officer for awhile," said Pelosky, "And we would do projects like this for kids in need. Nowadays I am pretty busy with my job, but whenever I have the opportunity to get involved with the Clubs it is a very fulfilling thing."

The second event, put on by the Grand Rapids Jaycees, allowed 24 Club Members (10 from Seidman Club and 14 from Steil Club) to enjoy doing a little holiday shopping for their families as well. This is an annual event that the Jaycees have been putting on for BGCGRYC and other local nonprofits for at least the past three years.

After the youth finished their shopping with special guests like Police Chief Kevin Belk, the Jaycees gift wrapped their items while the Club Members enjoyed a party and a visit from Santa.

According to Crison, the youth loved the opportunity to provide something special for their family members. It is a truly spectacular feeling being able to provide for loved ones around the holidays. A happy holiday makes a great start to the new year.

If you are looking for a way to give back to the community this year, consider volunteering or donating to BGCGRYC. For more information, check out their website:

For more photographs from these events, click here.

Article written by Sara Schneider.

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