Mercy Health Donates More Than 350 Backpacks to Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Backpacks Will be Distributed Throughout West Michigan Through School-based Programs

Thanks to the generous donations of Mercy Health colleagues over the past several months, more than 350 backpacks have been donated to the school-based programs of Kent County Sheriff’s Department and Muskegon Police Department. On Friday, September 16, 2016, at Heartside Health Center, a community benefit ministry of Mercy Health, backpacks were loaded into police vehicles in an assembly line formation to be given to children throughout West Michigan.

Receiving more than 1,000 backpack donations for its “Back-to-School Bash” held in August 2016, staff at Heartside Health Center wanted the extra backpacks to be used this school year, noting: “We are confident that we can fundraise past our goal next year,” said Rochelle Sather, site leader for Heartside Health Center.

Upon discovering that Muskegon Police Department and Kent County Sheriff’s Department each have school-based programs designed for officers to engage, interact and build relationships with students, Heartside Health Center staff decided to donate the backpacks to these programs so they could be used immediately within the community that Mercy Health serves.

“The Muskegon Police Department firmly believes that the younger we build positive relationships with the students, the more productive citizens they will be as they grow older,” said Chad Wilson, School Resource Officer for Muskegon Police Department. “Being able to supply students with the basics for school is another way to bridge the gap between the police department and our community.”

About the School-based Programs:
The Kent County Sheriff Department’s School Resource Officer Program
: A collaborative effort between the schools, community, students, and law enforcement, creating a safe school environment by having a certified Police Officer assigned to a specific school district, the goal of the School Resource Officer Program is to provide proactive law enforcement by working with educators, students and parents in an effort to reduce crime, drug abuse, and violence in and around the school buildings and the school district. School Resource Officers currently work in six different districts across Kent County.

GREAT Program: Muskegon Police Department School Resource Officer Chad Wilson leads the Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT) program for nearly 300 fifth graders. Students learn a wide range of skills from anger management to making good choices. At the end of the year, all participants perform a community service project in the city. Find more info at

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