Shop with a Hero strikes at Walmart

Photo by Bob Oliver
Mustapha Mhanna (right), a first-grader at Oakman Elementary School, waits as Dearborn Fire Department Capt. D.J. Begeman prices the items in the shopping cart to let him know how much money he had left to spend during the Shop with a Hero event Walmart Dec. 23. Mhanna was one of 43 Dearborn Public Schools students who received a $100 gift card and a chance to shop with a member of the police and fire departments.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Nothing like starting the holiday vacation from school with a shopping spree.

A few dozen volunteers from the Dearborn police and fire departments took 43 children, mostly eighth-grade and younger, from the Dearborn Public Schools on a shopping trip through Walmart Dec. 23 for the city’s annual Shop with a Hero program.

Each of the children received a $100 gift card and was paired off with a police officer or firefighter — including the chiefs of both departments — on a trip through the store to make holiday purchases for themselves or others.

Mona Mhanna, who brought her son Mustapha to the store, said it was an important day for him.

“He was so excited, he couldn’t sleep last night,” Mhanna said Dec. 23.

Mustapha Mhanna, a first-grader at Oakman Elementary School, and his mother were accompanied by Dearborn Fire Capt. D.J. Begeman, who was volunteering with the program for the first time.

“This is very cool,” Begeman said. “I have volunteered with other events, but this is my first time here. I’m really enjoying this.”

It was the eighth year for Shop with a Hero and Dearborn Police Cpl. Michael Ball said the event was very important for both departments.

“Every year we are getting more and more participation and individuals wanting to help out and volunteer,” Ball said. “Both chiefs are very supportive and you see a lot of the guys adjusting their schedules to make sure they can be here to help. It means a lot to everybody.”

Deputy Fire Chief Steven Densmore, who also was participating for the first time, said he enjoyed accompanying Jayden Cervantes, a fifth-grader from Long Elementary, on his trek to find items for himself and family members.

“This is such a wonderful program for the community,” Densmore said. “It feels good to give back and help make sure that these students and their families have a great holiday.”

Police Cpl. Stanley Kulikowski, who led Duvall Elementary School second-grader Logan McCosh through the store, said he likes to participate in the event because he knows how much it means to the children and their families.

“It’s very exciting for me to be involved because I have two young children of my own,” Kulikowski said. “We are helping make the holiday a little more special for these kids. It’s hard to put a price on that.”

Kulikowski said he hopes community members continue to take part in charities held by the police and fire departments next year because some of the money raised contributes to the Hero event.

“The more donations we get, the more we can put into events like this to help out as many people as we can,” Kulikowski said. “Every little bit helps a lot.”

(Bob Oliver can be reached at