ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford police officers came out to Blain’s Farm and Fleet to help a few members of GiGi’s Playhouse with their seasonal shopping lists.
30 members of GiGi’s Playhouse Rockford, an organization that provides “educational, therapeutic-based, and career development programs for individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community,” made their holiday lists and got to shop with some special guests.
Members of GiGi’s Playhouse bought gifts for their family and friends using money raised by Blue 815 and the Jamie Cox Foundation, two local organizations affiliated with supporting law enforcement and the community.
“We talk about how our first responders truly are heroes, and so our folks have a very high opinion of these officers anyway,” said Karen Carlson, executive director of GiGi’s Playhouse Rockford. “And then when they get to meet them in person and spend time with them interacting and get to know them on a personal level, it’s a thrill for them.”
The event is a thrill for both playhouse members and law enforcement, says officer Michael McMahon.
“It’s nice. It’s a little bit different duties and like were used to work on the streets and stuff like that,” said McMahon. “So being able to kind of meet new people and do something different, aside from working and stuff like that’s rewarding.”
Carlson says these events help in the organization’s goal of creating a more accepting world for those with Down syndrome.
“When people get to know each other on a personal level and remove those stereotypes, we start to move towards a more accepting world,” Carlson said.
To learn more about GiGi’s Playhouse Rockford and how you can support their mission, visit their website here.