MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Members of the community gathered Dec. 4 outside of Cannonball Pools to fundraise for this year's Santa's First Responders party.
Santa was available for pictures and police officers from Meridian Township and MSU Police were present alongside a fire truck from the Meridian Fire Department. Cannonball Pools also had hot chocolate and cookies inside.
"All the businesses on the strip have been kind enough to let us do this today," Gayelord Mankowski, the organizer of the Santa's First Responders party said.
The event helped raise money for the 31st Santa's First Responders party being held Saturday, Dec. 11. Mankowski, who is also a retired Meridian Township police officer, said kids in need are invited by their school guidance counselors. At the party, they are able to see Santa, receive aid, children get a gift and food is provided and sent home with the families.
"We get a fair amount of venison and elk that the DNR and Meridian Township donates," Mankowski said. "Actually this elk we got this year is the biggest elk, probably a thousand pound animal."
Last year, the event transitioned into a drive-thru and this year, Mankowski said it will be the same due to the pandemic.
"No child ever picks to be poor, or to be lacking," Mankowski said. "So for one day of the year, they're not going to lack for anything."
Members at MSU can do a member-to-member transfer if they wish to donate to the event, or they can call Mankowski at the number below or send a check with Santa's First Responders as the subject line.
If anyone knows a child and/or family that is in need of help, Mankowski said to contact him at: 517.719.4158.
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