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Retiring IMPD officer helps deliver Christmas to family in need

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – IMPD officer Marilyn Gurnell plans on retiring from the force in two weeks. But before she does, she’s working to deliver a merry Christmas to a family on the city’s west side.

In November, Gurnell was introduced to Shawnta Franklin and her five children. The Franklin family had been recently forced out of their home when a sewage backup destroyed most of their belongings. Gurnell says she immediately felt compelled to help. She wanted to see the Franklin family back on their feet.

“And I figured maybe I can get with some co-workers, and some friends outside of the department see if they can donate and help me out,” Gurnell said.

They did. Using a few donations, and a lot of her own money, Marilyn was able to buy the Franklin family two sets of bunk beds, a television and house supplies. She wanted to move onto getting the family Christmas gifts, so she enlisted the help of Dane Nutty.

“And when she told us about the Franklin family and how great the kids were, we were just thrilled and excited to be a part of it,” Nutty said.

Nutty is the director for the Indy Public Safety Foundation. Each year, he and his family “adopt” another family and help to provide Christmas to the less fortunate. He didn’t hesitate to offer his help to the Franklin’s.

“There were times when I was a kid and we benefited from other’s generosity so this is our way to kind of pay it forward,” he said.

Together, Gurnell and Nutty were able to deliver around two dozen presents to the Franklin family. Shawnta Franklin called the act “surreal.”

“It’s just such a blessing because I felt like nobody cared about me. My father helped me the best way he could, and my grandmother, but they can only do so much. And total strangers that didn’t even know me helped me!” she said.

Franklin says she can now give her kids a Christmas she didn’t think was possible thanks to Gurnell and Nutty. During their visit, she referred to them as her “guardian angels.”

“It’s like a relief it’s like I spread my wings, I feel so good right now I’m shaking,” she said.

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