Police officer creates program to help families in need
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Phoenix Police Lt. Jacqui MacConnell was in charge of the squad that found three boys in 2003, locked in a room full of filth.
Two of those boys, 5-year-old twins, were caged to their cribs.
She stayed in touch with the boys in the years since they were adopted by their foster family, helping with their needs whenever she could.
"Most of us became officers to help the community," she said.
Being able to help beyond their job is something she believes many officers want to do but can't because they don't have the resources to do so.
That inspired Lt. MacConnell to create Angels on Patrol, a nonprofit organization to assist officers with the help they want to give to those they come across in need.
"We receive applications from police officers who've identified a family that they've come across during their duties that needs help," she said.
Angels on Patrol recently gave one of those families an extra special Christmas.
From socks to shoes and even bikes, the Olmeda family was showered with gifts.
An officer met the family earlier this year and went to Angels on Patrol to help them out.
Luis Olmeda says it's been a tough year of unsteady work and he wasn't sure he could give his four children a "good" Christmas.
"Everything's been hard for us," he said.
At the end of each year, Angels on Patrol returns to those families they've helped to find out if they're in need of a little more around the holidays.
Lt. MacConnell said, "This year through volunteers and organizations that have adopted our families, we've helped at least 31 families with Christmas."
Jaziel Olmeda, 14, said, "I think it's pretty cool how they helped us out because we don't have enough money right now to buy presents for all of us."
Lt. MacConnell believes the impact of Angels on Patrol goes beyond just the families they're helping.
"I also believe that we're helping the officers because helping families and helping children helps officers get grounded again about why we became officers," she added.
She says the program has helped send children to leadership programs across the country, and even funded programs for kids to attend camps.
When asked how he feels about all the gifts his family received this past Christmas, Luis Olmeda beamed, calling it marvelous, "knowing people care about people in need" because his children haven't had a Christmas as nice as this one.
Click Angels on Patrol for more information about donating to the organization and fundraising events.
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