Page 46 - Jan2022_FOP_Magazine
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  The officer who saved Christmas
15th District affinity officer gathers help for family ravaged by a fire
When the news of a house fire that devastated a family of four blared over the radio at the end of October 2021, 15th District Affinity Officer Edward Whitaker responded without hesitation. He had only been in his new position as a community liaison for three months, and he knew this was how he was meant to serve.
After connecting with the family, Whitaker learned they had lost everything. Immediately, he began reaching out to resourc- es and community organizations to see how they could lend a hand.
Whitaker explored multiple avenues such as the Red Cross and other organizations that wanted to put the family in a shel- ter. But because of the family dynamics, including a cousin liv- ing with them who is disabled, Whitaker knew separating the family was not an option.
“So the 15th District, we kind of took the extra step,” Whitaker explained. “We have some community partners that we work with, and they actually found them a three-bedroom apartment within almost three weeks.”
Excitedly, the family moved into their new apartment just in time for the holidays, and Whitaker wanted to make sure help- ing this family didn’t end there.
Whitaker reached out to members of his department and received an immediate response. Donations ranging from trin- kets to clothes began flooding in. And when he received a call from an organization called Trophies of Grace, Whitaker knew things were looking up. Trophies of Grace adopts a family in need every year, and they decided to help this family.
Their wish list led to receiving a new furniture set, cookware, clothes and assorted Christmas gifts. And on Dec. 22, Whitaker gathered with other officers to present the gifts and household items to the family.
“It really gave me goosebumps,” Whitaker declared. “The
mom was crying when she saw all the gifts and when she saw the couches. They were really thankful and kept saying, ‘We ap- preciate it. We couldn’t be more thankful.’”
When Whitaker first heard about the house fire, he felt guided by faith to help in any way possible.
“It's not only my job, but I felt like I necessarily just had to really go the extra step,” Whitaker submitted. “I would say it was really just a blessing on my heart to just help them out. Because there's many families that go through that.”
Knowing he has resources and the platform to serve others as a Chicago Police Officer inspires Whitaker to continue helping families and those affected by tragedy.
“When you sign up to be a Chicago Police Officer, they ask you to serve and protect, but going that extra mile is what keeps people or keeps officers working for 30 years,” he confirmed. “When you're reading your job description, you read the words that are on the paper, yes, but actually experiencing it and see- ing it from the start, where a family lost everything, that makes me feel even better as a person to be able to help people.”
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