Redlands Police raising funds again for Heroes and Helpers


The Redlands Police Community Foundation (RPCF) is currently raising funds for the annual Heroes and Helpers to take deserving local students on a holiday shopping spree.

For the past several years the event has been held early in December at a single department store that provided a $5,000 community policing grant to support the program for deserving youth. That grant, along with an additional $5,000 to $10,000 raised each year by local community activist Gail Howard, allowed the Redlands Police Department to take between 60 and 125 youth on a shopping excursion, paired one-on-one with RPD employees and other community leaders.  

This year, when the previous corporate sponsor was unable to continue its annual donation, Toyota of Redlands owner and General Manager Paul Smith stepped up to donate funds exceeding the prior grant.

“I have had the chance to participate in this very important program over the past 16 years and see the happiness it puts in kids’ lives,” said Smith, who also serves the community as a Redlands Police Reserve Officer. “When I found out that the major donor was out, I wanted to help to make sure it continued. Toyota of Redlands is committed to give back to its community through several projects and this one is near and dear to our heart.”

In addition, Redlands AYSO United held a “Friendly Sunday,” inviting 12 club soccer teams throughout Southern California to the Redlands Soccer Complex for two friendly matches on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The entire $125 entry fee paid by each team went to the Redlands Police Community Foundation for Heroes and Helpers. Hangar 24 Charities also matched all 12 participating teams’ entry fees. 

The RPCF barbecued a hot dog lunch for all participants and their coaches, siblings, and parents using the Redlands Police Officers Association’s barbecue trailer.  Several parents of the players took it upon themselves to raise additional funds.

 ”We all know that times have been tough over the last couple of years for businesses, but once again the Redlands community has banded together to support a worthwhile cause,” said Redlands Police Deputy Chief Travis Martinez. 

In addition to Toyota of Redlands filling in as the platinum sponsor and the fundraising efforts of Redlands AYSO United, Gail Howard has continued to obtain commitments from longstanding supporting donors including State Assembly Member James C. Ramos, Reiss Jackson & Company and Paul and Joanne Barich.

“This truly illustrates what Redlands is all about,” said Police Chief Chris Catren. “When one door closed, many others opened due to the unbelievable generosity and caring of several individuals and groups to make the holidays brighter for some deserving kids in this community.”

The Redlands Police Department reaches out to school principals, local clergy, police officers and other community leaders for referrals of deserving students.  RPCF’s Heroes and Helpers program is designed to serve the underprivileged students who have displayed outstanding behavior or citizenship throughout the year.

It’s a touching sight to many of the adult participants when frequently the students use the shopping spree to buy gifts for their parents and siblings. Often they have to be encouraged to treat themselves as well.

 This year the RPCF made arrangements with Majestic Realty that will allow participants to select any store in the Citrus Plaza/Mountain Grove Shopping Center to conduct their shopping.

The goal this year is to raise enough money to take 100 students on a $150 shopping excursion. The Redlands community is well on its way to helping the RPCF achieve its goal.

Anyone wishing to donate to the event may visit