People driving past Meijer in Oxford on Wednesday night catching a glimpse of a dozen police cars and fire trucks lining the front of the building were most likely under the impression that something went terribly wrong.
Luckily, that wasn't the case.
Instead, dozens of service men and women, along with more than 130 children, flooded Meijer to participate in the annual Shop With a Hero program. Among the 11 participating agencies were the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Oakland Township Substation, Orion Township Substation, Lake Orion Police Department and Orion Township Fire Department.
Meijer contributed $150 gift cards and a free meal to each child participating in the event. Additional funds were raised by individual agencies to ensure that a large number of area children in need could have a special holiday.
"The first time I did this it was the most wonderful evening of my career," said Art Schrah, an Orion Township firefighter and Oakland County Sheriff's Office fire investigator. "It's so nice to spend an evening with a kid and make a difference in their lives."
Each "hero" was matched with one to three children. The heroes took the children to Meijer's cafeteria first for a meal. After that, children were able to shop for whatever they like alongside their heroes.
"This is an excellent opportunity for us to pay back the community for the support they give us all year long," said Sgt. Tony Spencer of the Oakland Township Substation.
"And we like kids!" Deputy Terry Cashman of the Oakland Township Substation added.