Gift cards reward local acts of kindness

Decker started his mission by first approaching local businesses to see if they would be willing to donate gift cards or movie tickets to people in the community doing good deeds

Leigh Black Irvin

FARMINGTON — More often than not, people who perform random acts of kindness go unnoticed. But a Farmington Police Department initiative is seeking to recognize and give something back to those who go out of their way to help others.

Melissia Begay poses for a photo with Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe. Begay assisted a 12-year-old boy with special needs over Thanksgiving weekend and has been recognized for her efforts by Farmington police.

As part of the department’s new Partnerships for a Positive Community campaign, the project involves officers giving out gift cards donated by local businesses. The initiative was started by Robert Decker, the department's’s district coordinator unit officer, who wished to foster “positive police-community relationships while assisting individuals and families who may be experiencing misfortune during the holiday season,” according to a department press release.

Decker started his mission by approaching local businesses to see if they would be willing to donate gift cards or movie tickets to people in the community who perform good deeds.

Several businesses have agreed to be part of the campaign, including Allen Theaters, Big R, Texas Roadhouse, Farmers Market, JCPenney and Chik-fil-A.

“I think it’s an absolutely fantastic idea,” Big R Store Manager Candace Laino said. “So many people are going through hardships, and it’s a great idea to reward people for doing good deeds.”

Big R donated $100 worth of gift cards of various amounts.

The gift cards, which are under the control of patrol supervisors, are given out to officers to distribute after they’ve reported witnessing an act of kindness.

“We live in a very caring and generous community where people frequently give of themselves to help others,” Decker said in the release. “Unfortunately, we don’t always hear about all the good deeds taking place. The Partnerships for a Positive Community campaign aims to highlight the acts of kindness exhibited by so many members of our public, which is what helps make our community a great place to live.”

FPD’s first award for an act of kindness was to a woman who was handing out gloves to homeless individuals on Nov. 20 outside of The Roof, a “wet” shelter that offers people a warm place to sleep during the coldest months of the year.

Another award was given this morning to Melissia Begay, who, along with her daughter Samantha, assisted a 12-year-old boy with special needs over Thanksgiving weekend. The two were driving on Main Street when they saw the boy in the road, in danger of being hit by cars. They got the boy to safety and stayed with him until police arrived, and he was united with his parents. Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe went to Target, Begay’s place of employment, and presented her with a gift certificate for two to the Texas Roadhouse restaurant.

“I was surprised and wasn’t expecting anything like that. It was really nice,” said Begay, who added that she would continue to help those in need regardless of whether a reward is involved. “It just makes sense that if someone is needing help, you would want to help,” she said. “We just happened to be there at the right time.”

The department welcomes additional donations of gift cards with larger amounts. Those cards will be distributed by Hebbe to officers who encounter people in need, such as a family that has suffered a disaster like a house fire. Community members and businesses that want to contribute a gift card for the campaign can contact Decker at 505-787-8168.

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.