KOKOMO, Ind. — This week, officers with the Kokomo Police Department have been to dozens of homes across Howard County, but they were there to help deliver a service, not respond to a call for service.
Since Wednesday, the department has been teaming up with the Jefferson House of Flowers as part of an effort that will benefit children in need across Howard County.
“We brainstorm all the time with different fundraisers and stuff. With Mother’s Day, it’s one of our biggest holidays, so I’d actually pitched it to the Kokomo Police Department about, maybe the cops could deliver for Mother’s Day,” said Truman Elkins, who owns Jefferson House of Flowers.
It didn’t take much convincing, said Elkins, who learned within a day of presenting his idea, that KPD was on board and excited to be a part of the fundraiser to help raise money for Cops 4 Kidz.
“When I heard about this, I thought it would be interesting to see people’s reactions, knocking on the door, a police officer with their car in the background, lights on, delivering flowers,” said KPD patrol officer Alex Harper, who was out on the roads Wednesday helping with the efforts.
“Everybody who’s seen us has been huge smiles, has been overly friendly and excited about it,” said Harper.
Drew Wallsmith, treasurer with the Kokomo Fraternal Order of Police David Foster Lodge, said they fundraise year-round for the program, because although they help many kids across the county with clothing and other items near the holidays, the need doesn’t stop.
“The Cops 4 Kidz program runs yearlong and often times we have officers respond to houses where children may not have the clothing or the sleeping arrangements necessary, or at least makes it living in a stable environment,” said Wallsmith.
In the event of these encounters, Wallsmith said, they are able to dip into the donations raised to help with clothing, shoes, bedding, and other items needed. They also help children in need with school-related items like backpacks and school supplies.
“Sometimes we have officers that respond to house fires where families are displaced, and we can dive into our Cops 4 Kidz fund there,” Wallsmith said.
In an effort to help raise money for the program, Elkins proposed that their staff at the flower store create two specific Mother’s Day bouquets, which will benefit the Cops 4 Kidz program.
One bouquet goes for $65, while the other is priced at $35. A portion of the proceeds will go to the program to help further its efforts.
“So far it’s starting to take off and it’s a great program,” said Elkins.
In addition to a portion of the sales being donated, Elkins said they would donate back the delivery fees to the program as well. It was his love for the way people help others in the community that inspired Elkins to reach out and set up this effort.
“It’s just a small-knit community and I think that’s what I like about it, people supporting people, helping each other out,” Elkins said.
Several hundred orders had already been received by Wednesday, and by Thursday, around 70 deliveries had been made by Kokomo police officers. Anyone who orders any flower arrangement from the Jefferson House of Flowers will also have the option to make a donation at the time of the sale, which will also go to the program.
For those who choose to make a donation, they can also request to have their flowers delivered by an officer, if they choose.
“One thing about cops delivering flowers for you is you don’t have to give them addresses, they know the addresses really well,” joked Elkins, “The only bad part is, you can’t stuff that many flowers in a cop car.”
“It’s great. It’s a little bit different than going out and serving warrants or making arrests. This is out doing something that’s nice,” said Wallsmith.
The efforts run Wednesday through Saturday, and people still have the option to order their deliveries through the final day. During the four-day fundraiser, staff and police said they had plans to deliver to businesses, homes, and even pay a visit to a school and nursing home to bring flowers and joy.
Harper said, it’s been a great experience for not only the community, but officers. For him, he wanted to not only help the effort, but pay tribute to a special person in his own life.
“My mother doesn’t live anywhere near here but I would love to do that for her, so that’s why I wanted to be a part of it,” said Harper.
On Wednesday, Harper arrived with Wallsmith and Captain Scott Purtee of the Kokomo Police Department to deliver flowers to Susanne Fouts, who said she had no idea it was coming.
“I don’t think I had much of a reaction, I just wondered what was going on,” Fouts said. “I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong!”
When she realized what was going on, she said, “I think that’s very generous, very thoughtful and I love the policemen.”
The flowers were ordered for delivery to Fouts’ home by her son and daughter-in-law.
“It’s very nice. I’m very happy,” said Fouts, who thanked the officers for their time in coming to deliver the bouquet.
As staff at the flower shop keep busy fulfilling the orders, they said they’re overwhelmed with joy to see the difference this partnership will make for kids in need across the area.
Anyone wishing to make a donation or order a bouquet for someone special, can visit this link to look at floral arrangements.
“It makes you feel really good, they’re [officers] doing it on their own time. They don’t have to do this,” said Elkins. “That’s what it’s all about, inter-small communities working together, helping other people out when they need it.”