The Union Rescue Mission and the Wichita Police Department on Tuesday delivered holiday meals to local families in need. It's part of a 13-year partnership between the department and the shelter.
Nearly 100 cardboard boxes lined the cafeteria tables Tuesday morning at Wichita's Union Rescue Mission, an emergency shelter and job training center for men. Inside each box was a frozen turkey, bread, pie, canned goods and garnishes, all to be delivered to local families.
This year, Officer Brent Johnson with the WPD organized the delivery process.
Johnson said officers choose which families in the community receive the meals based on things they see within community policing.
"Anytime that we come across a family and find out that they don't have any income, difficulty at home, then that's when an officer will decide this person needs help to try and have a meal for the holiday," he said.
Johnson carefully tagged each box with a label indicating which police officer would be making the delivery. The meals inside are customized to make sure there is enough food no matter the size of the family receiving it.
Officers with the WPD, along with men in the Union Rescue Mission's New Beginnings program, delivered the food.
Denny Bender, director of the Union Rescue Mission, said the men accompanying the officers have committed to a life transformation program at the mission.
"They're residents here at the mission," he said. "And they're in classes to deal with brokenness and addiction recovery and how to repair family relationships. They're with us anywhere from four to six months."
Part of the rehabilitation process in the New Beginnings program is giving back to the community.
Patrik Sachen is one of 21 men in the program right now. Sachen helped police officers distribute meals for Thanksgiving and did so again for the upcoming holiday. He says it was rewarding to bring food to families in need, and especially, to be able to see the look on their faces when the food arrived.
"The officer I was with, one person he knew was a younger kid and the kid seemed to really be excited about talking to the police officer, so it was pretty cool to watch," Sachen said of the Thanksgiving delivery.
He said it's also a positive experience to be able to tell others about the Union Rescue Mission, where he's been living for the past three months after struggling with alcohol dependency and getting down on his luck.
"I received help. So it's awesome that I can pay it forward and hopefully help somebody else down the road," he said. "And this is an immediate way that I can do that."
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