(Dec. 21, 2018) Community volunteer Kathy Grimes is grateful for the outpouring of support from resort businesses backing her efforts to pay it forward by orchestrating a holiday feast last Friday for the entire Ocean City Police Department.
For the third consecutive holiday season, Grimes, an OCPD volunteer auxiliary officer, has reached out to area restaurants for food donations.
“This is the third year and it has gotten bigger with more donations,” she said. “I’m amazed at the community. They’ve been nothing but giving.”
While garnering assistance over the last several weeks, Grimes marveled at the resounding reception from more than a dozen area businesses solicited.
“I wish the police could hear what the businesses say because it’s like, ‘Kathy what do you need, we’ll get you whatever you need,’” she said.
Grimes’ retirement five years ago coincided with her son, John, joining OCPD as a seasonal officer, which fueled an interest in donating her sudden abundance of free time.
“When the summer ended after his second season I got involved in the [Citizens] Police Academy,” she said.
OCPD formed its Citizens Police Academy nearly two decades ago for residents to gain insights about law enforcement procedures, while also providing preliminary training for volunteer auxiliary officers.
“My life has always been about safety,” she said. “I was a school teacher and I’ve trained lifeguards for 48 years.”
Doug Grimes can testify to his mother’s tireless spirit and propensity for selfless service.
“When she retired it was like she couldn’t sit still,” he said.
More widely known as “Coach,” on 98.1 WOCM FM, Doug Grimes said as an auxiliary officer his mother assists with a variety of duties, including directing traffic and crowd control.
“She retired a few years ago and ever since she’s been filling her time with volunteer work,” he said. “This is one of her many gigs.”
Maintaining the family thread, Doug Grimes said when requested, he joined his mother for the first phase of academy training.
“We got to know the ins and outs of what the OCPD does with the surrounding area and organizations,” he said. “The Citizens Police Academy takes you from the basics to how close they work with agencies like the Department of Homeland Security [and] Secret Service.”
The recent trend of OCPD employee holiday meals grew out of Kathy Grimes’ previous efforts to provide sustenance during her son John’s tenure as a seasonal officer.
Tales of home-cooked meals and baked goods wafted through the department until a tradition took hold.
“Every month I have something to feed the guys,” she said.
To be equitable, each month Grimes alternates recipients between day and night shifts.
“People need to feel appreciated,” she said.
Three years ago, Grimes took that idea one step further after hatching the holiday undertaking.
“I feel like at the end of the year, after the tough summer when things wind down and they catch their breath, is a perfect time to say thank you for all you do,” she said.
The endeavor quickly mushroomed to include the entire roughly 145-person OCPD offseason staff.
“I thought it was going to be the officers on patrol that I fed but we opened it up to the whole building,” she said.
Appreciating the scale of operations necessitated, Grimes was thrilled when requests for food donations were eagerly filled.
OCPD Lt. James Grady said the warm community reception has a heartfelt impact on his cohorts.
“The men and women of the Ocean City Police Department truly appreciate the businesses stepping up to the plate and providing the food to thanks us for our service,” he said.
While noting the holiday feast would be highly unlikely without Grimes spearheading the effort, Grady said the community response has been phenomenal.
“I think the businesses truly want to be involved with this kind of thing,” he said. “Once she starts putting it out there for donations she gets a lot of calls, ‘Hey come see me too because I’ve got stuff for you.’”
OCPD Public Affairs Officer Lindsay Richard said beyond the auxiliary officer designation, Grimes’ genuine caring has earned another moniker from staff.
“[She] is basically considered the department mom around here,” she said. “She bakes and cooks for the officers almost weekly and has volunteered about 1,000 hours so far this year.”
Richard has been astounded to witness Grimes’ diligent dedication while organizing the feast over the past month.
“It is really amazing the planning and coordination that she puts in for this, not to mention the hours that she puts in volunteering,” she said.
Law enforcement fostering healthy community partnerships, albeit on display in Ocean City, is not as well received in all jurisdictions, Grady said.
“One of the big things we push down to the officers in the street is to make those contacts out in the community with the businesses and the citizens,” he said. “We’re really fortunate we get to live and work in a city that the citizens and the businesses truly appreciate us.”
The following businesses provided support: Acme on 94th Street, Candy Kitchen, Denny’s, Dunkin Donuts in West Ocean City, Food Lion (118th Street and West Ocean City), Greene Turtle on 116th Street, Pizza Tugo, Primo Hoagies on 132nd Street, Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli on 63rd Street, Seacrets on 49th Street, Starbucks on 127th Street, Touch of Italy on 66th Street, Walmart in Berlin and Wawa on 120th Street.