On Feb. 9, Scarborough Police officers gave student-made cards and gifts from Len Libby Candies to senior residents during Scarborough Community Services day of food delivery. From left to right: Sgt. Steve Thibodeau, School Resource Officer Francis Plourd and School Resource Officer Rob Pellerin. Courtesy photo Steve Thibodeau

SCARBOROUGH — With the help of an anonymous donor, the Scarborough Police Department delivered Valentine’s Day treats and homemade cards to senior residents through the week of Feb. 8.

Scarborough’s Cupid Cops, community resource officers, partnered with Len Libby Candies and Scarborough Public Schools to provide gifts and handmade cards for seniors who may not have a valentine this year, Community Resource Supervisor Sgt. Steve Thibodeau said.

He said that the idea of Cupid Cops came after an anonymous donor wanted the department to reach out to the elderly population, inspired by seeing officers deliver Christmas gifts to children in December.

“I got together with my team and we realized that Valentine’s Day is very special for couples, and often when you’re elderly, you’ve lost a loved one, so we just wanted to find elderly people who needed a valentine,” Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau then reached out to Scarborough Community Services, he said.

“They provided me with most of the names, and then I reached out to Len Libby Candies to help me provide some of the gifts at a reduced rate so we could afford them and the donor gave the money to Len Libby’s, and then we met with school officials through school resource officers and they were the ones who provided us handmade cards,” Thibodeau said.

Scarborough students made cards for seniors in celebration of Valentine’s Day. The Scarborough Police Department’s community resource officers delivered the cards and also treats from Len Libby Candies to local seniors and nursing home residents. Courtesy photo Steve Thibodeau

Nicole Heisey of Len Libby Candies said that when Community Resource Officer Eric Greenleaf and Thibodeau approached the company, the owners “jumped at the chance.”

“Our own family has lived here in Scarborough since our late father, Fern Hemond, bought the candy shop from his dad in 1956, so these gifts are going to people who have been our neighbors for almost 70 years,” Heisey said in an email. “Additionally, my brother-in-law, John DeGrinney, who now runs the shop with my sister, Gisele — third generation — , had known both of the officers from his time working at the DA’s office. Getting the chance to catch up with them and tell great stories was too much to resist.”

Len Libby Candies believes that chocolate can almost serve as a placeholder for a warm hug for the time being, she said.

“(W)e are a tremendously close family,” Heisey said. “We know that many others have been struggling with the absence of the warm embrace of those they love most, and we long for the day we can safely be together again.”

On Feb. 9, officers met up with Scarborough Community Services during a monthly Meals to Go pickup, where residents collect pre-cooked freezer meals, and handed treats to about 50 seniors, Thibodeau said.

“Once they realized what we were doing, they were so happy and very pleased and very thankful,” he said. “It was a great day.”

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, the team delivered the treats and cards to five nursing homes in the community, Thibodeau said. Officers also delivered to residents who aren’t able to leave their homes.  Four hundred and eighty seniors total received a valentine through the week.

Thibodeau hopes that he can work with Scarborough Community Services on future holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day, he said. Because of COVID-19, there has been limited opportunity to do extensive outreach.

“I work with my partner who’s been in community policing for years with the school resource officers, and I tried to get community police things going back in the fall of ’19,” he said. “We were doing Coffee with a Cop and National Night Out and just things that got the community together, and then when COVID hit, it was like, go to your house and shut the door and wait til the coast is clear, really. But we’re trying to pick it back up.”

For the police department, being a positive community presence is important, Thibodeau said.

“Not anything specific on the news, but if you’re paying attention to any news these days, we’re in some dark light and we need to pull out of that,” he said. “I think the only way we’re going to be able to do that is to reach out in our capacity to be a positive role model in the community.”

As a community resource officer, Thibodeau wants to keep supporting residents, he said.

“I tend to say ‘we’re the police officers with the party,'” he said. “We come to your house, go to your birthday party, have a birthday party parade. We’ll do anything that’s positive, and that’s what we’re geared towards right now.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: