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The “Adopt a Hero” campaign provides gifts to police employees and firefighters. In the photo, two boys carry stockings, and adults have other gifts for police officers and firefighters. CONTRIBUTED

‘Adopt a Hero’ gifts stream in for fire, police employees

MADISON – The “Adopt a Hero” campaign to give gifts to Madison’s first responders has grown from one neighborhood to groups and individuals across the city.

In 2017, Christi Spencer asked neighbors in Greenbrier Woods about ‘adopting’ an officer for Christmas. “Their response was so positive. I promised, if they signed up, I would provide a stocking for each family,” Spencer said. The outreach has grown to include dispatch, administration personnel and accountants.

“’Adopt a Hero’ was born that year!” Spencer said.

“Last year, we added the four Madison Fire and Rescue stations,” coordinator Christi Spencer said. Contributors now include high school sports teams, elementary schools, residents, nonprofits, businesses, churches and Boy Scouts.

“Greenbrier Woods’ devotion to this passion project has remained a constant,” Spencer said. “In fact, adopting an officer has become a family tradition for many in our neighborhood community.”

A neighborhood Facebook group gives status reports on ‘adoptions’ and gifts. Spencer also uses Instant Messenger and texting for updates.

Each stocking is personalized with treats and goodies for a specific hero. Residents deliver stockings to Spencer’s home or Asbury Church.

Neighbors, friends, volunteers from Asbury Church and residents help on delivery day. “It’s a team effort, made possible because of love, generosity and time given by so many,” Spencer said.

For 2022, 115 Madison Police Department employees and 110 Madison firefighters will receive a stocking.

“Every stocking is delivered the same day (and) is personalized with the hero’s name and contacts specific to that individual. Many receive a card from the individual or family who gave a stocking,” Spencer said.

“We’ve received letters from Chief Jernigan and Chief Gandy with words of appreciation,” Spencer said. Spencer values supportive comments from Adopt a Hero participants. “Making a positive impact in others’ lives has brought so much joy by giving back to our incredible police and firefighter heroes.”

In 2021, Amy Malone, a firefighter’s wife, sent a card, which is Spencer’s favorite. “My husband Melvin was on vacation about two weeks during Christmas. When he returned, there were a card and stocking for him. By name! . . . I tell you all this to let you know how much we appreciate what you did. He told me this was the best, other than the calls he has run, thank you he has gotten in his 30-year career,” Amy said.

This year, Adopt a Hero has the most individuals ever. “Which I love, and hope it continues to grow. It’s my prayer that every single person on the signup list is adopted” Spencer said.

For more information, call Spencer at 256-642-8858 or email Christi_spencer@msn.com.

To help an adoption for Madison Fire and Rescue Heroes, visit https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0F45AFA922A6FA7-madison2. For gifts to Madison Police Department Heroes, visit signupgenius.com/go/10c0f45afa922a6fa7-madison1.

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