Nobody likes to see flashing lights in the rear-view mirror. But late in November 50 drivers in Lowell, MI, were pulled over for minor offenses, like tinted glass that was too dark, or snow covering the license plate. Oddly, all the stops were made near a Meijer store. Along with their license and registration, officer Scot VanSolkema (shown below) asked drivers if they'd finished their Christmas shopping, and what they still had to buy.
Drivers never knew their words were heard by a team of officers inside Meijer. As soon as the driver mentioned what he or she needed, officers bought and wrapped it. Within minutes, a second squad car pulled up behind VanSolkema's cruiser and his back-up appeared with a gift-wrapped box which VanSolkema gave the driver. Astonished to find the box contained exactly what they needed, drivers responded with disbelief, laughter, gratitude and tears.
Lowell police chief Steve Bukala says you can tell a lot about a person in the 10 to 15-minute window of a traffic stop, whether they're having a good day or a bad day. "Then we got this idea: what if we could change a person's day in real time?" UPtv, a Christian-based television network, chose the Lowell Police Department and paid for all the gifts to promote its Uplift Someone Christmas initiative. Officers handed out presents worth about $7,000. The most expensive was as laptop computer, and the most modest was a curling iron. No motorists received tickets.