COLOMA — Like Mr. Rogers did in his television neighborhood in times of trouble, one area police agency is encouraging children to look for the helpers.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’,” Fred Rogers told his young viewers decades ago.
Coloma Township Police Patrolman Dan Stuglik is bringing that sentiment to the forefront in Coloma as the ever-changing landscape of the novel coronavirus has many people afraid, including children.
“I’ve realized as a police officer, society is not always good at explaining to children what’s going on. Things they see or hear on social media may or may not be true. This is an opportunity for adults to talk with children about what’s going on, and find some good in it. There’s always someone who is helping,” said Stuglik.
He is Coloma’s school resource officer and is making an effort to continue to connect with children while they are out of school. So he started the “Who Are the Helpers?” initiative. Children are invited to think of a helper, draw that person, and mail their picture to the police station. Anyone can be a helper, from the postal carrier who brings the mail to the grocery bagger, the auto mechanic or the nurse who takes care of sick people, he said.
Stuglik will either display the pictures around town or give them to the helpers.
“My plan originally was to hang them around town. But now that people can’t go anywhere, I’m thinking of a different plan,” he said. “For example, one child already drew a bus driver, because they are delivering food to kids while schools are closed. So that one might go up in the bus garage.”
Stuglik said that besides giving children something productive to do, he hopes the “Who Are the Helpers?” initiative will help lift the spirits of some of the many helpers in the community.
Children can mail their drawings to: Coloma Township Police Department, Attention Officer Dan, 4919 Paw Paw Lake Road, Coloma, MI, 49038.