If you give an average 10-year-old a $100 gift card to Target and tell him he can spend it on anything he wants, odds are he’ll fill his cart with toys and video games.
But not Hunter Gasque.
The Lakeshore Road Elementary fourth-grader was one of 10 kids to win the Cicero Police Department’s Shop with a Cop contest this December, according to his mother, Lisa, who is the driver coordinator at North Area Meals on Wheels. In addition, her father, Hunter’s grandfather, is a volunteer driver for NAMOW.
As part of the contest, kids across the North Syracuse Central School District were asked to write an essay explaining why they would like to shop with a Cicero police officer and what they would do with the gift card if they should win.
“He wrote about his family and that Christmas was special because it’s Jesus’ birthday, and the fun things about Christmas,” Lisa Gasque said. “But he decided that, if he was to win this, he wanted to shop with a cop so he could buy food for the seniors from Meals on Wheels.”
Gasque said that she was surprised to learn of her son’s essay.
“I really think that, for him, I’ve been an at-home mom for the last eight years, and I think just talking about what happens here and listening to my dad and I talk about it has piqued his interest, and he realizes that there’s really a need for this,” she said. “He enjoyed learning that we are helping people. I guess he retained some of that. I didn’t know he was doing this, writing this essay in school, until he came home and said, ‘Guess what I did today!’ I was really proud when he told me that.”
True to his word, once Hunter’s essay was picked as one of the winners, he spent all of his gift card on gifts for the seniors served by NAMOW.
Gasque said she and her husband have tried to instill a sense of giving in Hunter and his two siblings.
“My husband was a former Marine, so we always tried to be instrumental in trying to make sure that the kids get a toy to put in the Toys for Tots bin, so that might have given him a base to understand about giving to charity,” she said. “I was just very proud of him to think about that.”
Donna Barrett, executive director for NAMOW, was also impressed by Hunter’s giving spirit.
“What I see is that it started with [Lisa’s] father, and she saw the good it did talking about it and getting [Hunter] interested,” Barrett said. “I wish that more families were like that and did more things and got their children involved. It really is touching to see that.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.