When we all think of the Grinch, we immediately go to the image of the green malcontent spending the majority of his life up on a mountain, isolated, misunderstood and determined on ruining Christmas for the rest of humanity. Yet, at the end of the story, it’s that very same Grinch who actually saves Christmas when he reconciles his own misguided frustration and puts aside differences in the interest of the spirit of the holiday and the celebration that it SHOULD be; and so it goes for the American police officer.
It’s nothing short of an understatement to say that 2020 has been demoralizing for America’s law enforcement. We’ve been put on an island, singled out as the alleged source of almost all that ill’s society to the point that calls for defunding us seem to come from every corner of this country despite the illogical rationale behind that. We have spent most of 2020 (and actually the better part of the last decade) being disgruntled while we battle endless false narratives and abandonment from both outside and within, to our own discredit, often giving in to that anger. “The job is dead”. Sound familiar?
However, much like the fabled Grinch, it’s something about the holidays that causes our hearts to grow. Over the last few weeks, Brothers Before Others, the Blue Magazine, PBA’s, FOP’s and countless individuals and charities teamed up to make magic happen for children….children who needed some magic now more than ever after enduring a year of cancellations, lock downs an isolation.
On December 19th, in conjunction with the Blue Magazine and New Jersey State PBA Local 56 and the unwavering support of Warren County Sheriff Jim McDonald and his family, Brothers Before Others hosted a ‘Winter Wonderland’ at Flynn’s on the Hill in Phillipsburg, NJ, along with their awesome staff who shared in the determination to ensure that the Phillipsburg residents would not be disappointed.
Phillipsburg Mayor Todd M. Tersigni
Notice how Santa looks on in disapproval as our photographer Randy Pobuktiewicz of Quarter Mile Photography takes a much deserved break with our lovely Winter Wonderland elves.
At this event, approximately 100 families attended with over 208 children receiving an age/gender appropriate gift directly from Santa while being doted on by the Grinch, Rudolph and Frosty whose costumes were supplied by Frazetta’s Costumes , as well as dozens of elves and volunteers. Before they even met Santa, each family’s first stop was the Holiday Headbands station where they received their head gear and light up necklaces. One has to be properly attired to meet Santa, after all. After receiving their gift and a photo with Santa, the family’s next stop was the Candy Station, sponsored by Brian Shea, the CEO of The Tactical Financial Group.
Besides sponsoring the candy station, Brian generously donated a Playstation 5 which was, along with other gifts, hand delivered by BBO member Kevin Crouse to a single mother family close to him personally that, in short, wasn’t having Christmas this year. In Kevin’s words, “To say they were shocked was an understatement!! There were so many tears shed today. I can’t begin to thank you all enough for your generosity. You didn’t just make their Christmas better. You were able to give them a Christmas in general and one they will never forget.”
Prior to this event, two local families were chosen to receive a ‘Christmas Miracle’. Accompanied by wives of law enforcement and Brothers Before Others members, the two families were taken shopping for groceries for a month. On the day of the event, ALL members of both families received every Christmas gift that they had submitted as part of a ‘wish list’…yes, even the moms! These gifts included Xbox’s, Nintendo Switches, bicycles, American Girl dolls and so much more.
BBO has done events like this in the past. However, this year it took on a much more special meaning given the circumstances that our kids are facing and the seemingly endless wiping away of the ‘magic’ of the season. There are no words that could appropriately thank our sponsors and volunteers, ALL of which are either law enforcement or support the men and women who wear a shield. As the day wound down, BBO Founder/President Michael Burke commented, “Many will say what a great job we did and how we are changing lives. That may very well be true. However, this was the most memorable and impactful Christmas that I can recall. I am truly blessed to have taken part in this these events and to have witnessed the immeasurable selflessness of our members, our supporters and their families.”
Almost simultaneously, while taking part in the event in Phillipsburg, Daniel Del Valle of The Blue Magazine and Michael Burke were working with Danny’s team of countless employees, sponsors, volunteers and supporters to bring Christmas to Paterson (NJ). After personally hand wrapping over 2000 donated presents, on the morning of December 23rd, that’s exactly what they did.
Escorted by the Paterson Police Department, Danny’s crew lead a vehicle caravan that included Santa in a red corvette convertible, elves dancing on the sidewalk with the Grinch handing out age/gender appropriate gifts to the children of some of the most impacted areas of Paterson, NJ.
Reflecting on the day, Daniel Del Valle stated, “The Blue Magazine and Brothers Before Others share the same vision. As a result, this year I had the best Christmas of my entire life. Sharing it with the beautiful children and parents of Paterson was an amazing feeling that I will never forget. There are so many organizations and individuals who made this possible because of their commitment to helping the community. From Paterson Police Department, the individuals who dropped off toys (from as far as the North Brunswick Police Department), the organizations who donated time and money, the individuals who donated time wrapping thousands of gifts, Santa, the Grinch, to the parents or Paterson who allowed us to share this moment with them. The list of people to thank is endless. A grown man cried in the street this Christmas and I am proud to have been able to express that. That’s how impactful this day was. We CAN change the world. It doesn’t mater who sees it; as long as the persons involved and God knows, that’s all that is needed.
It’s convenient to dismiss society’s failures as byproducts of some imaginary police totalitarian behavior. When, in reality, it’s the American police officer that is literally trying to keep this proverbial Titanic afloat. Over the last few weeks, the members of Brothers Before Others and the Blue Magazine have born witness to the overwhelming compassion of the men and women who wear shields and those who support them. As David Clarke often says, NO ONE cares for their community more than the American police officer.
As an individual, I am beyond humbled and honored to be associated with leaders like Michael Burke and Daniel Del Valle. As the saying goes: “Tough times don’t build character. They show if you have any”. Law enforcement as a whole is enduring one of its most complex and toughest test since the first man strapped a shield to his chest and declared himself “The Law”. The fact that these men are able to facilitate the out-pouring of generosity that was displayed over the last few weeks is a testament to both their leadership and the good that remains within the profession.
On behalf of Brothers Before Others, the Blue Magazine, our members, staff, volunteers and countless selfless supporters, Merry Christmas, America. May God Bless you, your families and this incredible nation with a happy and healthy 2021.
CLD Associates LLC