Seguin Police Department’s Hope Vasquez’s heart was full as she looked around the Seguin Police Department’s training room on Wednesday.
Every table in the room was filled with gift cards, baskets of goodies and more donated by local businesses and community members in honor of National Police Week.
Typically, in celebration of the week that honors and recognizes law enforcement officers, Vasquez tasks students with creating goodie boxes for the officers.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the campuses are closed and there would be no baskets this year.
“Normally, the class would sponsor an officer and I would pick up their gifts and give them to the officers on this day after the luncheon provided by the Seguin Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association,” she said. “Because of everything, they weren’t going to get the goodie bags, so I decided to think of another way to honor them and show our appreciation.”
Vasquez, a recently retired police officer, reached out to some community members and asked if they would donate a prize that she could give away in a free raffle drawing for the officers.
What Vasquez didn’t expect was the outpouring of support she received.
“I called a handful of friends that I have and they started saying yes,” she said. “My goal was to just have 30 prizes, so at least half of the department gets a prize. The community provided. We were able to give one prize to each officer. There are different gifts of different things that were donated. Besides their raffle prize, they’re going to get a police car treat box that myself and the D.A.R.E. volunteers put together.”
A former Seguin police officer, the Guadalupe County Humane Society and a regular contributor to the Cinderella Ball separately made donations to ensure every officer got something.
Steven Alyea, the former officer who is now a financial advisor for Edward Jones, presented Vasquez with a $50 bill for each officer and a challenge for the community.
“I didn’t want somebody to not get something, they all deserve something,” he said. “I gave a little bit to all of them instead of a few things to a few of them. My hope is that every once in a while — it doesn’t have to be a gift of money — that people give them a hand written thank you or a verbal thank you. It goes a long way.”
Guadalupe County Humane Society President Margret Svatek and her husband Tom delivered a business card holder for each officer, as well as a a couple of gift baskets.
Additionally, all of the officers received a $20 gift card to either H-E-B or Walmart.
“A lady who usually buys a table for the Cinderella Ball, she wanted to do something for all of the officers,” Vasquez said. “She decided to donate her money that she usually uses for the Cinderella Ball — that was going to be for princesses to attend for free — and she donated that and wanted us to get gift cards for everybody.”
Seguin Police Detective Don Cartwright said he appreciated all of the thoughtfulness of the community.
“I think the relationship between the police department and the community is very good,” he said. “It is important as well. We know we have their support and they know that we will be there to do what we have to do to take care of them. Them showing their appreciation to us means a lot to the officers here.”
The community’s response is what makes the celebration, Vasquez said.
“I know Seguin might be a small town, but they have big hearts and they are very supportive of our police department,” she said. “I’ve seen that throughout the years. They are always doing something for us. They’re giving us treats through the year, they’re saying thank you all the time, children making us cards thanking us for everything, even during the holidays. Seeing that, it’s a joy for me to know that in a small town we make it big.”
“Even with this pandemic, we’re still here for the community,” Vasquez continued. “I just wanted to make sure the officers know they are appreciated.”