B y Lee Tugas
Whitehall Police Chief Matt Dickinson was so jubilant that for once he forgot his dislike of photographs.
Diving through a bag of clothing,” Dickinson crowed, “The nice people of Whitehall donated more than 500 pounds of food. We filled that police car.”
Dickinson’s reference was to his department’s goal to fill a patrol car with donated food and winter clothing, which it did on Saturday, Dec. 21, four days before Christmas.
“We picked Christmas over Thanksgiving because people at Christmas, well, they’re more into the spirit of giving,” Dickinson said.
So apparent was Dickinson’s happiness over the success of the drive that for once he permitted his picture to be taken. Proudly he held up a new jacket, as if it were a prize trout he’d just caught from Lake Champlain.
Just a community policing detail
Officially, the informal food and clothing drive was formally logged into the police department’s computer as a “community policing detail.”
Community policing commonly translates as a cop-on-the-beat neighborhood check. This time, appointed patrolmen stayed put at the station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. while village residents dropped off food and clothing. Much of the clothing was brand new, sporting price tags attached to sleeves by plastic strips.
Several stuffed bags fell off the reception sofa in the waiting room of the police station and onto the floor. From one 30-gallon, black plastic bag, Dickinson held up coat after coat that was either brand new or, “in perfect shape,” Dickinson said.
The food items that were donated will be sent to the Whitehall Food Pantry. The clothes will be given to the Washington County Economic Opportunity Council.
Dickinson thanked the EOC for its participation in the Dec. 21st clothing and food drive.He also thanked Hannaford in Hudson Falls for its donation of boxes of cereal, canned goods and pasta to the local food pantry. Dickinson said all of the food had been delivered to the pantry. Village residents had also donated $150 in cash to the drive, Dickinson added.
Hopes to repeat success in June
“We are going to do it again in June, when the kids get out of school,” Dickinson said.
The chief’s plan for the spring is ambitious, involving not only village police but also state police and Washington County sheriff’s deputies.
Dickinson said he had not officially contacted state police and deputies, but he had no doubt both police agencies would welcome the chance to increase the goal from filling one patrol car with food into a three-way competition.
“There would be three patrol cars to fill,” Dickinson said, “one village, one state police and one sheriff’s.”
If he is entirely successful, Dickinson could see 500 pounds of food increased to 1,500 pounds.
That would come in time for summer recess from school, when less fortunate children must do without school breakfast and lunch, Dickinson said.
As he continued to speak with rapid enthusiasm, Dickinson kept pulling jacket after jacket after scarf after hat after jacket from the black bag resting on the floor between his outstretched legs.
“There are 25 winter coats here and 14 hats and lots of scarves and mittens,” he said.
Once he announced the clothing total, Dickinson began putting the clothes back into the large black bag. He packed carefully, as if all those coats and hats and mittens and scarves are going on a trip…which they did.