SPRINGDALE – The Prince George’s County Public Safety Assistance Program carried on a 33-year tradition of assembling and distributing boxes of food to families in need across Prince George’s County. “It actually started with a couple deputies seeing a gentleman that needed some assistance in a store, and then they found out their buddies in […]
SPRINGDALE – The Prince George’s County Public Safety Assistance Program carried on a 33-year tradition of assembling and distributing boxes of food to families in need across Prince George’s County.
“It actually started with a couple deputies seeing a gentleman that needed some assistance in a store, and then they found out their buddies in the Fire Department and the Police Department was doing the same,” said Bill Milligan, executive director of the Public Safety Assistance Program. “It literally started with crab bushel baskets, putting them in the back of cruisers or paddy wagons and taking them to the families in need.”
About 40 personnel from all sectors of public safety, including the fire department, police department, department of corrections, department of homeland security and sheriff’s office came to the fire station in Springdale to assemble 153 boxes of food on Dec. 18.
Officials then passed out some of the boxes to the Emerson House in Bladensburg and passed out candy canes at Riverdale Elementary School.
“It’s a labor of love,” Milligan said.
Each basket has about $50-$60 worth of food, including various canned goods, potatoes, onions, macaroni and cheese, a loaf of bread and a 7.5 pound Perdue “Oven Stuffer Whole Chicken.”
The food was either donated by private sponsors or bought with fundraised money.
In total, public safety members assembled about 2,000 food baskets in cardboard boxes this year.
The families who receive the food baskets were identified by Prince George’s Department of Social Services, local police departments and other local organizations, such as Adam’s House Recovery Center and the Bowie Interfaith Pantry and Emergency Aid Fund.
“There are 2,000 families that will have a good Christmas dinner,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Public Safety Mark Magaw. Magaw also thanked the public safety officials and corporate sponsors on his and Baker’s behalves.
“I know what you do, all of public safety, what you’re asked to do every day, and to support this program you guys always stand up, you’re always coming to serve, and I want to thank you for that,” he said.
The corporate sponsors for the program include Safeway/Bimbo Bakeries USA, Pepsi-Cola, Lancaster Produce, Burris Refrigerated Logistics and the Prince George’s County Association of Realtors.
Representatives from these sponsors received certificates of appreciation at the event.
Police Chief Hank Stawinski said that while members of Prince George’s Public Safety teams are participating in more visible community programs around the holiday season, such as the food baskets or Toys for Tots, they support county residents year round.
“Bear in mind that what you’re seeing today, it’s easy to see what the members of public safety are doing today,” Stawinski said. “What you don’t see is that on May 2 at midnight, when someone needs help, the people in this room are going to be there. You don’t see that on Sept. 12 somebody in the middle of the daytime is in crisis and they need medical care, and these people come help.”
Delivery of the food baskets began on Dec. 14 and will continue through Dec. 22.
“Working in the police department, you’re out every day, doing what you do, and you do a thankless job. But its days like today that make us all feel good, when we can help people,” said Genovia Whittington, director of Homeland Security at Prince George’s County. “When you see the people that you help, it gives you that energy for the rest of the year. And whenever you have a bad day, just think about all you do (for the community), when you go to the school and give the kids the candy canes.
“It’s just little things we do in public safety that people really appreciate.”