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Big Lake Police Dept. pays it forward to community

"I think it's a true testament to our community. Because I think we live in one of the finest communities in the state," said Big Lake Police Chief Joel Scharf.

BIG LAKE, Minn. – In a big, beautiful act of paying it forward, the Big Lake Police Department is handing out gifts to families in need.

And they’re doing that after the department itself received more than $2,500 in cash from anonymous donors.

“I think it’s a true testament to our community. Because I think we live in one of the finest communities in the state,” said Big Lake Police Chief Joel Scharf.

Scharf said the gifts started with one anonymous donor following up on his gift of last year by giving another $1,500 this year. After that, Scharf says the generosity just snowballed.

“This year, when the same donor stepped up, everybody else has been stepping in behind him,” Scharf said, noting that a total of five families have pooled together to provide the cash gifts.

Beyond the money, families have also donated stockings and gifts addressed to children in need. All of the gifts and money are being distributed by officers as they respond to crisis calls during the holiday season.

“One of the things that is unique to our profession is we don’t get dispatched to addresses and situations because things are happy there. It’s because people are in distress,” Scharf said, adding that stress typically increases during the holidays due to financial or social pressures.

Among the families presented with gifts so far: a family who recently experienced a domestic-related confrontation and resulting arrest and a family experiencing a recent job loss.

“While it’s not going to solve all their problems, it certainly brightens their day,” the chief said.

And typical for acts of kindness this… big, the chief also noted the giver receives as much as he – or she – gives.

“When I look at it, I look at the heart of the city of Big Lake,” he said while talking over the table filled with stockings and bags. He continued: “I look at this, and I see a large array of caring people who want to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

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