Police Lights of Christmas program helps fill a holiday void for many

Lights of Christmas Police bags.For Manitowoc Police Sgt. Paul Krock, seeing a family without a Christmas tree tugs at his heartstrings. It’s an almost sure sign that there’s probably not much joy to be found – for children or their parents – on Christmas morning.
Police of Lights In December, police officers from 50 law enforcement agencies throughout Northeastern and North Central Wisconsin had an extra tool at their disposal while protecting and serving their communities. The 2021 Police Lights of Christmas program – organized by Q90FM, a De Pere Christian radio station – provided officers and deputies with 1,000 tote bags filled with personal items and $165,000 in mostly small denomination gift cards to assist individuals and families during the holiday season.
“The Police Lights of Christmas program has been amazing,” said Krock, who has used Walmart gift cards to help two families purchase Christmas trees. “Our area has a lot of working-class people and, with the pandemic, a lot of people have fallen on tough times. It’s definitely a good feeling to help someone out.”
Green Bay Community Police Officer Darryl Robinson recalls the positive impact last year when Police Lights of Christmas gift cards were used to purchase groceries for two families, each of whom had a child suffering from cancer.
“People appreciate it a lot; they’re very grateful,” Robinson said. “Just having it available to help brings us joy also. We’ve got a big homeless population and their belongings often get worn out or wet. To give them something nice and dry to stay warm is awesome – a great feeling.”
Community First is proud to have been supportive of Q90’s Police Lights of Christmas outreach from its 2016 start with just two departments (Appleton and Green Bay). Besides providing 1,000 tote bags and a financial donation this year, generous CFCU member-owners made donations at our 25 branches throughout Northeastern Wisconsin and we promoted the fundraising effort through our Share the Love radio messages.
“In Oshkosh, we have a large homeless population so these blessing bags and gift cards are really helpful,” said Oshkosh PD Crime Prevention/Public Information Officer Kate Mann. “It’s a wonderful feeling to have that available.”
Mann shared how the department had received a letter from a grateful woman earlier in 2021 thanking them for the gift cards at an incredibly low moment in her life. “She had just gotten out of domestic abuse situation and had fled with her two children,” she said. “She told us how meaningful it was to provide gift cards to purchase some bedding and Christmas presents.”
“It’s fantastic,” said Green Bay Police Officer Joe Merrill. “We don’t always get the opportunity to be a positive influence,” Merrill said. “A lot of times we’re in contact with people on their worst day and now we have an opportunity to turn a bad day into a really good day.”
Police Lights of Christmas 2016-2021
2016 - 2 POLICE DEPTS - $10K in gift cards & 100 tote bags
2017 - 5 POLICE DEPTS - $25K in gift cards & 250 tote bags
2018 - 20 POLICE DEPTS - $50K in gift cards & 600 tote bags
2019 - 25 POLICE DEPTS - $75K in gift cards & 750 tote bags
2020 - 30 POLICE DEPTS - $100K in gift cards & 750 tote bags
2021 - 50 POLICE DEPTS - $165K in gift cards & 1,000 tote bags
50 police agencies in 2021 (alphabetically) Antigo PD, Appleton PD, Ashwaubenon (Public Safety), Brillion PD, Clintonville PD, De Pere PD, DNR, Fond du Lac PD, Fox Crossing PD, Fox Valley Metro PD, Grand Chute PD, Green Bay PD, Kaukauna PD, Manitowoc PD, Marshfield PD, Medford PD, Menasha PD, Merrill PD, Minocqua PD, Neenah PD, Oshkosh PD, Plover PD, Portage PD, Rhinelander PD, Rothschild PD, Stevens Point PD, Sturgeon Bay PD, Two Rivers PD, Wausau PD, West Bend PD, Wisconsin Rapids PD, WI State Patrol, Wrightstown PD and sheriff’s departments in the following counties: Brown, Calumet, Columbia, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Oneida, Outagamie, Portage, Taylor, Waupaca, Wood and Winnebago.

Police Lights of Christmas continues to offer holiday boost to struggling individuals, families – and officers

October 18, 2021
Police of Lights
Two days before Christmas last year, Appleton police officers stopped at a home to visit a 16-year-old boy who is battling cancer.
They shared with the boy’s family some gift cards and personal items in a blessing bag – a gesture of kindness made possible through Q90FM’s Police Lights of Christmas program.
A neighbor stopped the officers as they were leaving to say thanks. She also tearfully shared how another nearby family was struggling – a mother with young children who is battling cancer and recently lost her job. With additional gift cards in their squad cars, along with some stuffed animals an officer had secured for such an occasion, they visited the family – providing a holiday boost during a challenging time.
Stories such as these are shared each December throughout law enforcement agencies in Northeast and North Central Wisconsin thanks to the generosity of the public supporting the Police Lights of Christmas program.
Stories such as these are the heart of why Community First Credit Union has committed to being a lead sponsor of the program since its inception in 2016. In addition to a financial donation each year, Community First provides tote bags that are used as the blessing bags and volunteers to help assemble the bags at a special hand-off event. CFCU also offers in-kind support through a Spread the Love radio campaign and messaging on our marquees and in branches, and we also accept donations at all of our full-service branches. 

Donations accepted at 25 branches

Fundraising for Police Lights of Christmas 2021 is underway. Starting Oct. 20, 2021, donations of cash or gift cards can be brought to any of the 25 Community First branch locations throughout the Q90FM listening area.
“This cause is very important to me,” says Detective Lieutenant Melissa Wiesner of the Two Rivers Police Department, which has taken extra steps to personalize some of the Police Lights of Christmas blessing bags with donated or purchased items such as comfy fleece blankets, children’s books, stuffed animals, kids’ pajamas, toothbrushes and a personal holiday note. “Each officer receives gift cards they get to hand out to people as they wish. It is a great way to not only help others but to have positive contacts.”
Two Rivers police have worked with local organizations, schools, churches, child protective services and veteran’s groups to reach out. “It’s been a rough year for so many that we really wanted to help out as much as possible, even if it was a small act of kindness,” Wiesner said. “It really gives all of us officers joy to help others or at least brighten their day.”
Police Lights of Christmas began six years ago with two police agencies (Appleton and Green Bay) as a community outreach by Christian radio station Q90FM, raising $10,000 in gift cards and providing 100 drawstring bags with personal items. In 2020, more than $100,000 in cash and gift cards was raised and distributed along with 750 bags to 30 law enforcement agencies throughout North Central and Northeast Wisconsin.

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