Haverhill police and firefighters are preparing once again to take children shopping for the upcoming holidays.
The Heroes and Helpers program, hosted by the Haverhill Police Department and Haverhill Firefighters Local 1011, is now in its fourth year. Through the program, School Resource Officers Milady Figueroa, Nicole Donnelly and Gillian Privitera along with their team leader Sgt. Kevin Lynch, identify needy children throughout the community and take them Christmas shopping for their families at the local Target store. Speaking before the City Council earlier this week, Haverhill Police Chief Robert P. Pistone said last year’s event provided a $100 shopping spree for 100 children and he is hopeful this year’s program will surpass that.
“Last year we had many, many generous local businesses that donated and, again, we raised over $16,000. This year, we’re looking to up the amount. I think we spent about $100 per child last year. This year we’re looking to maybe do 150,” he said.
The chief said this year’s event, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 10, also includes lunch for the kids.
“We’ll meet at the high school. We’ll have a pizza party for the kids and then we’ll bus them over to Target, take them shopping, take them back to the high school and wrap the presents,” he said.
Pistone said he aims to enlist members of the school’s service clubs and sports teams to help with the wrapping. He also requested any businesses or individuals that would like to help financially to please send a check payable to Haverhill Police Department, in care of Administrative Assistant Wendy Duff, 40 Bailey Boulevard, Haverhill.
The chief also took the opportunity to talk about “Faith in Blue.” The program was created two years ago in response to uprisings across the country aimed at police. The idea is to use faith-based organizations to bring members of the public and local police departments together.
“We’re going to host an open house at the police department on Friday, Oct. 7, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., for the community to come, speak with us, voice their concerns and build relationships,” Pistone explained.
Pistone said the program helps people see the police as human beings who care about everyone in the community.