Stillwater mother and daughter donate thousands in gift cards for cops to distribute

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A Stillwater mother and daughter, inspired by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher’s “Live on Patrol” videos, have donated thousands of dollars in gift cards to local law enforcement agencies this year.

The daughter is Makayla, who asked that her surname not be used. Her mother wants her full name kept private.

The duo last week gifted the Stillwater Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office with stacks of different gift cards.

“They dropped off hundreds of dollars in gift cards to various fast food restaurants for deputies to use when they come across people during their shifts who haven’t eaten or are in need of food,” Washington County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Laura Perkins said.

The 25 gift cards ranged in denominations of $15 to $25 each, Perkins said.

Mother and daughter also stopped by the Stillwater Police Department with 15 gift cards – worth $25 each – for Stillwater officers to use as they see fit. Among the stores and restaurants included: Holiday, Speedway, McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King.

“It’s an amazing gift to our community, and we are honored that she is allowing us to help her make a difference in people’s lives,” Police Chief Brian Mueller said.

Officers often run across people who are homeless or “couch surfing” who might need a meal or gas or other items, Mueller said.

Makayla and her mother said they got the idea after watching Fletcher’s “Live on Patrol” broadcasts earlier this year. They were moved to donate and were put in touch with Darryl Spence, a community service officer at the department, who also serves as an associate minister at New Hope Baptist Church on St. Paul’s East Side. Spence works with people who are homeless, former gang members and “youth who are less fortunate,” he said. “When I pass out gift cards, I try to convince people to do different things.”

The “Live on Patrol” broadcasts, which have generated millions of views on social media, emphasize “being kind,” he said. “Whatever we can do, we do. We just spread it throughout the community and it helps. Say you’re with a mother at a (crime) scene, you can say, ‘Hey, why don’t you go feed the kids?’ You will find that the most upset person will calm down if you just simply hand them a $10 gift card to go to SA where they can go and get a sandwich. If we are able to hand them a gift card and say, ‘Go to McDonald’s, or ‘Here’s one to Holiday, Speedway,’ it means a lot to them.”

Spence meets Makayla and her mom once a week at “the spot,” he said, an undisclosed location in Maplewood, where he receives that week’s bunch of gift cards.

“I get my hug of the week, and they hand me the gift cards and I’m on my way,” he said. “They are a blessing. I’m proud to be one that they call a friend. Because of what those two do, we can continue what we do.”

Mother and daughter are living out the Bible verse Matthew 25:35.

“It goes, ‘For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink … I needed clothes and you clothed me,’” he said. “When I was hungry, did you feed me? We want to be able to say yes.”

Mother and daughter estimate they have given away about $5,000 in gift cards so far this year. They bought so many at Target the other day that the cashier was concerned they were being scammed.

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“We just try and do what good we can where we can when we can,” the mother said.

Mikayla, who would like to work in law enforcement one day, said she is glad their donations are being put to good use.

“I love to help,” she said. “It’s fun. I like doing it very much because it just helps out the community so much because there are a lot of people now, especially because of COVID, who don’t have many things, and I feel guilty that I have way too much,” she said.

Said Mom: “We have enough. Mikayla said it perfectly, I couldn’t have said it better myself: ‘We have more than enough.’”

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