The Oceanside, California, Police Department’s recent random acts of kindness gave a whole new meaning to paying to forward.
Throughout April, Oceanside officers visited grocery stores around the community to surprise shoppers with $100 bills to help them pay for their groceries.
The gesture is part of the department’s Random Acts of Kindness Project, which began in December 2021 as a Secret Santa Operation to “help make spirits brighter in Oceanside,” the department shared in a press release. The department then received a $20,000 donation from California-based family, the Fortins, who founded the Trauma Intervention Programs, Inc., to continue its random acts of kindness year-round.
In March, the Oceanside officers went to local gas stations to pay for drivers’ gas as part of the project. April was focused on helping shoppers buy food.
“Grocery costs have skyrocketed and Oceanside police officers are heading out to stores to help people overcome food insecurity,” the department said in a Facebook post. “OPD will surprise shoppers with Random Acts of Kindness by helping with the grocery tab in April.”
One shopper was blown away.
“Are you serious?” one woman said after being approached by an officer. “I never thought of anything like that happening, it’s remarkable, takes your breath away.”
Oceanside officers were happy to get out and interact with the community in a positive away.
“It’s a cool experience to get out in the community and make people smile and serve in a different way,” Officer Andy Gularte said.
“My family and I enthusiastically support the Oceanside Police Department Acts of Kindness Project,” said Wayne Fortin, the founder of Trauma Intervention Programs. “We can think of no better way for us to provide acts of kindness to Oceanside residents than by partnering with Oceanside police officers who are on the front lines and encounter those who need kindness and a helping hand on a regular basis.”
Oceanside P.D. Public Information Officer Jennifer Atenza told KFMB-TV that the program will go a long way to build relationships between the police and the community.
“Most of the time when people call the police, it’s not under the greatest circumstances,” Atenza said. “It’s when something bad has happened, there’s an emergency, there’s trauma involved. So, this affords us the opportunity to make connections under positive circumstances.”