Londonderry police pitch in to help Virginia Christmas wish come true
Londonderry Police Officer Jake King sorts through cards and packages left at the police department earlier this week. The items will be delivered to Nathan Norman, left, a 4-year-old Virginia boy with life-threatening cancer, in time for Christmas. (APRIL GUILMET PHOTO)
On Wednesday, members of the Londonderry Police Department will rise before dawn, load up two vehicles with boxes upon boxes of Christmas cards and gifts, and embark on a 12-hour journey to Rustberg, Va., where they'll personally deliver some holiday cheer to one special little boy.
Four-year-old Virginia resident Nathan Norman is fighting an aggressive form of cancer. The little boy, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009, has endured several rounds of surgery and chemotherapy over the past three years.
Doctors said the situation is now dire as tumors continue to grow on Nathan's spine, and knowing that Christmas is the child's favorite holidays, his parents decided to put up their lights and decorations two months early this year.
Soon after, the cards began pouring in, and after hearing that Nathan has a particular affinity for police officers and firefighters, the town's emergency responders began sending him cards as well.
As word about Nathan's Christmas wish spread, Virginia state police reached out to those in other states and soon a ripple of kindness became one gigantic wave.
Londonderry police learned about the card-collection efforts through an email sent by the New Hampshire state police.
"We got that email in late November and began collecting cards right away," Police Officer Jake King said on Thursday.
King will travel to Virginia next week with fellow Officers Chuck Nickerson and Randy Dyer, dispatcher Amelia McKeever and Explorer Tom Merrill. Several civilians plan to make the trip with them.
McKeever volunteered to drive her own SUV for the occasion, which will be filled up with cards and packages, as will the police department's Ford Expedition.
As of this week, the local police force had gathered around 200 cards, but King said his hope is to have "at least 500 cards" when he pulls out of the Mammoth Road police station next Wednesday. Other police departments around New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts are planning similar trips to deliver Nathan his cards in time for Christmas.
As the adult adviser for the high school's Police Explorer Post, King is spreading his message to the teenagers he works with, who will, in turn, reach out to their peers at Londonderry High School.
Police have also partnered with the staff at the nearby Londonderry Armed Forces Recruiting Center, and card collection bins have been set up inside the center, at the high school and inside the police station.
Over the past several weeks, Londonderry friends from both near and far have reached out to Nathan.
"I've received packages from past Police Explorers who've gone off to college," King said. "We've gotten cards sent here from as far away as Louisiana and Washington state."
Students in Explorers Post No. 1137 made it easier to help Londonderry police help Nathan by purchasing dozens of blank, holiday cards: enough for each officer to write a personal greeting.
"Hopefully, this bin will be overflowing by the time we leave," said King. "It's a season for miracles."
Those wishing to send a card to Nathan may drop by the Londonderry Police Department, located at 268A Mammoth Road, before Wednesday.
For more information, call the police department at 432-1118 or send emails to King at firstname.lastname@example.org.