OPD employees provide meal kits to local families


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Posted November 26, 2020 | Ocala Gazette Staff | Photography by Bruce Ackerman

Fifty local families will be able to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal thanks to the generosity of more than 150 officers and employees of the Ocala Police Department (OPD) who donated their City of Ocala Thanksgiving bonus checks of $30 each to provide the meal packages.

On Nov. 20, members of OPD spread out through the community to deliver the meal kits, which included a turkey and a baking pan loaded with goodies such as cornbread mix, instant potatoes and tea bags.

The OPD Facebook page noted that: “OPD hand delivered each basket throughout the day and were greeted by smiles of gratefulness while making connections with our community that will be everlasting.”

The names of the families who received the meal kits were provided through School Resource Officers, the Ocala Housing Authority, Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection, the Family Violence Prevention Workgroup, local churches and through routine officer interaction, the post noted.

The department will use any overage of money collected from the drive to provide stockings, fruit baskets and full meals to more families in December for Christmas, in addition to its annual Secret Santa program.

The giving initiative was started by Police Chief Mike Balken and, according to the social media post, “it is the intention of OPD to continue these acts of generosity year-round throughout the community.”






Members of the Ocala Police Department donated their holiday bonus checks to purchase Thanksgiving dinners to give away to food banks and needy people at the Ocala Police Department last week. Photos courtesy of Ocala Police Department.