WORTHINGTON ― A handful of Worthington police officers spread Christmas cheer in the community Monday afternoon by patrolling the streets not for traffic violations, but for folks who could use a holiday blessing.
This is the fourth year running of WPD's Christmas Cash program, which now bears the name of Dr. Kern Schwartz, who funded the effort anonymously until his August 2019 death. When the community learned that Schwartz had been the donor, people stepped up to keep the program going. This year, WPD received $2,600 in donations from generous community members to use for Kern's Christmas Cash.
A couple of families were selected ahead of time, and officers made home visits to deliver the cash. The remainder of the funds were distributed randomly to drivers who looked like they were having a hard time.
In one case, Officer Alex VanSomeren came across a local man whose vehicle has been missing a front bumper for several weeks, and decided one of the $100 bills should go to him.
"This is a whole different way to do policing," he said. VanSomeren has only been working for WPD for a few months, so Monday was his first experience with Kern's Christmas Cash.
Capt. Nate Grimmius said of the program, "It's something positive we can do," noting that usually when the public has contact with police, it's not an enjoyable experience.
Each time the recipient realized they were not getting a traffic ticket, but a cash gift, their face would turn from dread to relief to gratitude. Officers made the day ― and possibly the Christmas ― of 26 individuals and families in the Worthington community.