May 2—For a local restaurateur, gratitude is best expressed in deeds, not just words.
Surjit Singh Mattu, who owns Amar India locations in Miami and Butler townships and Jeet India Restaurant in Beavercreek, is showing his appreciation for local police departments by dropping off snacks and drinks.
Mattu launched the effort after someone cut a catalytic converter from one of the restaurant's vehicles and the responding Miami Twp. police officer explained some of the perils law enforcement faces in the line of duty when confronting thieves and other criminals.
"I felt so bad ... because you never know what they go through," he said. "Then I thought, 'Well, I want to do something.'
That "something" was purchasing and delivering cases of water, Gatorade, protein bars, trail mix, crackers, cookies and potato chips to Miami Twp. police officers and firefighters, then to to the Washington Twp. substation of Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Washington Twp. Fire Department, Centerville Police Department, Miamisburg Police Department and Miamisburg Fire Department.
"I wanted to (show my appreciation)," he said. "They've been helping and sacrificing their lives for people. They didn't ask me ... I just felt like it. I've been in business 30 years in this area and they've been helpful. I do appreciate their services and all that and that's the main thing. They put them on the front line to protect people."
"They can carry it when they're on duty," the Washington Twp. resident said. "They're running around all the time and they don't have the time to eat."
Mattu, who was born and raised in India, moved to the Boston area in 1981 as an electrician, but worked to build a career in the restaurant industry on the side before heading to Houston and then, in 1984, Ohio. He said community is important to him because he could not grow his businesses without it.
The restaurateur stopped by Miami Twp. Police Department Wednesday to make his fourth delivery.
Miami Twp. Police Chief Charlie Stiegelmeyer said it's "always heartwarming" to see the outpour of support from the community to police, including contributions from Mattu and others. But the items they donate — including cookies, doughnuts, cakes, pizza and other "goodies" — are not what is important. What's important is the people are actually thinking about them.
"Right now, it's really tough to be a policeman, and we have some of our officers, as well as other officers across the country that are second guessing is this the career that they want to keep,'" said Stiegelmeyer, a more than 40-year veteran of law enforcement. "So when we get an outpour from the community like this and support, that reaffirms to my guys and my ladies of the department that hey, this is why we do this. We do this because we're public servants and the public do appreciate what we do."
Much of Mattu's take on kindness is the impermanence of human existence.
"When we are going to leave from this world for good, we're not going to take anything with us," he said. "The only thing we're going to take with us are what we did bad and good."