Helping During the Holidays

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“I’m not the richest man in the world, but I’m actually able to live comfortably and my family lives comfortable because of my profession, and it’s only right to give back whenever you get the chance,” said McRea, who, along with fellow 17th district officer Sgt. Shawn Coleman, came up with the idea for the event.

The families gather around Santa Claus at the 2027 Adopt a Family event.

Police officers, local families and representatives from Streamline Development were on hand at the JNA Institute of Culinary Arts Wednesday night for the 17th Police District’s sixth annual Adopt a Family event.

Every year, 17th district police officers Freddie McRea and Kimberlee Hickinson interview families, who are nominated by others in their communities, from around the neighborhood to find out which five are the most deserving of presents during the holiday season.

“I’m not the richest man in the world, but I’m actually able to live comfortably and my family lives comfortable because of my profession, and it’s only right to give back whenever you get the chance,” said McRea, who, along with fellow 17th district officer Sgt. Shawn Coleman, came up with the idea for the event. “At any given time, any one of us can be a family during the holidays that catches a hardship.”

Funding for the event was provided by Helping Hands, which is a nonprofit started within Streamline Development, a development company focused on redeveloping parts of Philadelphia, including Point Breeze.

“I think it’s our obligation to be socially responsible and try to make sure that we’re giving back in the community that’s helping us grow our company,” said Sean Schellenger, owner of Streamline and founder of Helping Hands. “Gentrification is kind of like a bad word. We’re trying to redefine it. We’re trying to show that not every developer is a bad guy and that there’s a way to do it the right way.”

“Hopefully on Christmas, when you give thanks, you give thanks to Streamline and Helping Hands,” Carmetta Dickinson, chairperson of the 17th Police District Advisory Council, said in a speech to all the families involved. “As well as the police officers that respond to you and your needs. We don’t want you to think that the police officers are bad guys. They are a resource.They are here to help you and so can we give them a round of applause?”

Before the presents were given out, the families were served a pasta dinner by the caterers at JNA Institute of Culinary Arts.

“The fact that we do it at JNA Caterers — they donate their time and their culinary skills to be displayed in blessing a family,” Dickinson told the Review. “A lot of times a family may not have the opportunity to get a five-star restaurant experience.”

“You just want to help them out,” said McRea. “If you’re a good family that’s just trying to do something with yourselves, there’s no need of kicking you down. Let’s try to help you out. That’s what it’s all about.”