'No one fights alone'

Becky Vargo • Dec 12, 2018 at 12:00 PM

FERRYSBURG — Joan Deters said in all the years she adopted a family for the holidays, she never imagined that her family would one day be on the receiving end.

So, when a line of volunteers delivered a huge pile of presents to her door Tuesday night, all she could do was hug every one of them and thank them for their help.

Her husband, Steve, who is suffering from cancer, said he knew they were getting some help. He thought someone was coming to his house Tuesday to go over his Christmas list.

“I knew something was up when they all started showing up,” he said, pointing to a large group of family members nearby.

Children in Coopersville, Ferrysburg and Grand Haven were surprised with a burst of holiday cheer on Tuesday, part of the first of several West Michigan families helped by the Shields of Hope Holiday Heroes program.

Volunteers descended on the three homes via police cars, fire trucks, tow trucks and ambulances, with lights and sirens blaring, to deliver Christmas gifts to families affected by cancer.

“The financial burden that cancer puts on families during this fight is overwhelming,” said Sgt. Christie Wendt of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office and spokesperson for Shields of Hope. “Shields of Hope tries to ease that burden by providing the families with needed items for their household, along with some fun things on the family’s wish list.”

Shields of Hope, an organization of West Michigan police, fire and 911 dispatch personnel, collected items needed by the 16 families they are supporting this year in Ottawa, Muskegon, Kent and Allegan counties.

“The community was amazing on this one,” Wendt said, explaining that many of the gift wishes on the local angel trees had been fulfilled.

Those gifts are delivered with fire trucks and police cars, along with Shields of Hope personnel and community volunteers. Santa Claus also makes an appearance.

“No one fights alone,” Wendt emphasized.

Shields of Hope partners with local businesses and public safety agencies to help provide the needed items for Christmas. Wish list trees are also set up in the communities where the families reside.

The organization also sponsors events for the families year-round.

Anyone interested in donating to Shields of Hope, or volunteering at one of their events can get more information online at www.shieldsofhopewestmi.com.

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