During this past Saturday’s monthly Matthews United Methodist Church Methodist Men’s breakfast, the group gifted “Secret Santa” money to the Matthews Police Department.
“This is a great event – donating money to the community,” said Police Chief Clark Pennington. “Those types of partnerships are what it’s all about and are important to us.”
The event was started four years ago when the group’s President, Marshall Edwards, saw a video on national news referencing another “Secret Santa,” event Kansas City. Thinking it was a great idea, Marshall called his friend, then Police Chief Rob Hunter, and asked permission to create this opportunity.
The first year, they raised $1600. This year, the group is donating $4000. “This is a gift of community, a gift to law enforcement and an opportunity to take away negative press” (about police-persons), said Pennington.
According to Patrol Captain Stason Tyrrell, Matthews is pushing ahead of most surrounding communities, who do not offer a community Secret Santa event.
This year, patrol officers will give $100 to 40 families – a small fraction of the recipients will be specifically identified prior to receiving the money; the remainder will be gifted on the street. All of this will be captured on officers’ body cams and a select few videos will be shared at another MUMC breakfast in early 2019.
“I see this as a positive image,” said Penington, “since (our) image has declined nationwide.” This is a positive sign of giving, a positive sign of a ministry and a great opportunity.”
According to Patrol Captain Stason Tyrrell, Matthews is pushing ahead of most surrounding communities, who do not offer this event. “This is great for the officers,” he said. “They want to help and to serve our community in the best way they can,” adding that officers keep tools and even gas cans in their patrol cars in an effort to help residents in need.
“It’s a win-win situation,” said the Chief.