Oxford Police Department teams up to brighten the holidays for local families
● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford Borough Police Department once again collected and distributed toys to families in Oxford. This year, the police officers’ efforts to brighten the holidays for children in the area were boosted by the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce and many local businesses.
Oxford Borough police officer Shakira Greer explained that police officers in Oxford have been reaching out to help children at the holidays for a number of years. For a few years, bikes were collected and distributed to youngsters. This holiday season, the police department set up a collection box where new, unwrapped toys for boys and girls up to the age of 16 could be dropped off. Monetary donations were also accepted.
Meanwhile, the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce came up with a unique way to help the effort. Christine Grove, the chamber’s executive director, explained that in 2018, the organization started the “Cash the Elf” social media campaign where photos of Cash—an Elf on the Shelf-type character—were posted on the Chamber’s social media outlets. Cash became quite popular.
“For 2019,” Grove explained, “we thought how could this campaign, which garners a buzz for the businesses, also benefit others?”
Grove explained that over coffee one day with Officer Greer, an idea was born. Cash the Elf would visit local businesses or organizations if they were willing to donate either money or a toy to the police department’s toy drive.
The social media campaign ran from Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Eve. According to Grove, Cash the Elf visited over 50 businesses as of last week.
Oxford police officers, with some assistance from Santa and some helpers, then delivered all the toys to children standing outside their homes.
Greer said that the effort to collect and distribute toys is a great opportunity for children and teenagers in Oxford Borough to have a positive interaction with police officers. This positive interaction helps to build trust and eliminate some of the fear that some youngsters may feel when they first encounter a police officer.
Additionally, the effort allows the local police officers to help out families—specifically children. Greer noted that there are families in the area who are suffering in silence, and this is a way to help some of them.
Grove said that the Oxford Chamber of Commerce and local businesses welcomed the opportunity to team up with the Oxford Police Department and to help brighten the holidays for families.
“Cash generated quite a following last year during the holidays on our social media,” Grove explained. “We are thrilled this year to partner with the Oxford Police Department in adding the giving component to Cash the Elf’s visits. We have such a wonderfully generous community, this is one way we can help spotlight those businesses that give back. I walk into a business and hear ‘Cash is here!’ It’s just a fun way to connect our members while benefiting the children in Oxford.”