Residents asked to Stuff a Cruiser with toys, clothing

SALEM — After stuffing themselves with turkey, area residents are being asked to Stuff a Cruiser with toys and clothing for Columbiana County families in need from noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 25 at the Salem Walmart.

The event one week from today will feature some special four-legged guests, K-9s Simon and Argo from the Salem Police Department and K-9 Jesy from the county Sheriff’s Office.

Quaker Lodge Fraternal Order of Police 88 partnered with the Salem Police Department, the county Sheriff’s Office, and Ohio CAN (Change Addiction Now) Columbiana County to specifically help foster children. Some Salem police officers are participating by taking part in No-Shave November and donating funds to help stuff the cruiser.

Salem Patrolman Mike Garber, the handler for K-9 Simon and president of the Quaker Lodge FOP 88, said they’re working with the county Department of Job and Family Services, the schools and Ohio CAN to come up with the children needing help. A list of suggested items will be posted on the police department Facebook page soon and will be available outside Walmart the day of Stuff a Cruiser so shoppers can see what’s needed before they shop.

“We have a ton of grandparents raising grandchildren because of the opioid epidemic,” Garber said. “Seeing all these kids struggle, that’s why we picked this as a cause.”

Normally, police officers in Salem are required to be clean-shaven on the chin, meaning no beards or goatees. Some do have moustaches, but that’s all they’re allowed. For the month of November, Garber said the chief is letting them grow goatees for No-Shave November with one catch: they must donate $30 to the Stuff a Cruiser event. Secondly, they must be clean-shaven by Dec. 1. Eight or nine officers have ditched their razors for the month to see what happens. Some of the officers will be present for Stuff a Cruiser, as will the sheriff’s armored vehicle known as an MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected).

“We look forward to seeing everybody there. It’s a really important event to the officers and everybody who’s working on it. We just want it to be really successful,” Garber said.