By Kati Bush, staff writer
Newman University student leaders participated in a service project over the summer, making blankets to be distributed by the Wichita Police Department.
Jeremy Noel, a first-shift road patrol officer, works directly with children who are removed from their homes due to unfit living conditions, neglect, or other parental criminal activity.
He and his fellow officers distribute these blankets to children living in low-income areas or as they are being removed from their homes. Many of the children in these situations are living in dirty, unclean environments, Noel said. Noel said he believes the blankets can possibly be the first clean thing the child has ever owned.
“I feel like Santa Claus,” Noel said. “These things make the children so much happier.”
Noel, who doubles as a student at NU, spoke at NU’s student leader retreat over the summer, telling stories about delivering these blankets.
The students on this retreat also made blankets for Noel.
One story he told was about a young boy named Casper. Noel said Casper was living in a dirty home. The food in the refrigerator was rotten and the home lacked air conditioning.
As Noel was giving out the various toys, books, blankets and teddy bears from his patrol car to the children, he asked Casper’s older sister if anyone in the family needed a blanket. She told him Casper needed one. When Noel asked Casper if he wanted a blanket, Casper took the blanket, smiling from ear to ear, he said.
Sweat was dripping down his forehead. He then proceeded to wrap the blanket around himself like a cape.
“These kids are so innocent,” Noel said. “They have no idea, except that they love their mom. The blanket is literally a security blanket to them.”
The student leaders donated eight blankets to the Wichita Police Department. Noel said the Wichita Police Department gives out more 100 blankets and 500 teddy bears each year to at-risk children.