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Spirit of the season

Jackson Police Chief John Young (standing, center) and Northampton County Sheriff’s Deputy Curtis Boone (right) bring a little Christmas joy to Rich Square Health Care Center residents. The local chapter of the Fraternal Order of the Police and the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office teamed up last Wednesday to distribute gifts to those in two local nursing homes. Staff Photo by Amanda VanDerBroek

RICH SQUARE — Those involved in law enforcement often see the negatives life can bring, but perhaps the best aspect of being a public servant is the ability to motivate change.

Recently, local law enforcement showed a different side of that public servant title all while bringing a little joy to local nursing home residents.

Last week, the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) and the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) visited the Rich Square Health Care Center and the Hampton Woods Health and Rehabilitation Center in Jackson.

Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent along with Jackson Police Chief John Young, Garysburg Police Chief Raymond Vaughan, NCSO Deputy Curtis Boone and NCSO employee Janet Finney delivered gift bags filled with useful, everyday hygiene products, such as soap, deodorant and toothpaste to the residents.

“It’s an annual effort by the Fraternal Order of the Police and the Sheriff’s Office to share the holiday with our senior citizens,” said Vincent who serves as the Chaplin for the FOP. “I don’t know who gets the most enjoyment out of it, them or us.”

For three years the local FOP have relied on donations from the community to brighten the holidays for seniors in assisted living facilities.

Rich Square Health Care Center Administrator Jim Lavesque said it’s a welcomed gesture at the 69-bed skilled facility, which also has a portion of its campus dedicated to assisted living.

“At Christmastime to have this…I think it’s great,” he said.

Lavesque said the effort fits in with what the facility aims to do: rehab its residents in a comfortable environment in order to send them home to their families.

“Over the years (the atmosphere) has changed from institutional type facilities to a more home feel,” he said. “This is what this new facility is about, making them feel like they’re at home.”

Director of Nursing Joyce Cherry said the visit from the law enforcement officers, or any visitor, helps raise the residents’ spirits.

“It boosts their morale and quality of living,” she said. “It’s a good time to be doing this because some of them do not have any family.”

Vincent, Young, Vaughan, Boone and Finney made their way through each facility, chatting with the residents, wishing them a happy holiday and making sure each received a gift bag.

Vaughan said the good deed of giving back is one that never gets old.

“It makes you feel good on the inside,” he said. “My favorite part is seeing the excitement on their faces…the enjoyment for them.”

Young said giving the gifts helps the residents know they are not forgotten and helps law enforcement officers focus on the positives of being a public servant.

“It’s some of the best work we’ve done…that’s what we are, public servants; we don’t just lock people up,” he said.