Dover Police take stand to help family in need

Dover Police Patrolman Logan Spicer makes a stop for lemonade in support of the MacLeish family. Dozens of officers and civilian staff members rolled by regularly earlier this month, some paying $5, $10, $20 or even $100 for a just a few sips of lemonade. The children were selling lemonade in order to pay for school supplies while brother Thomas Carey undergoes cancer treatments. (Submitted photos/MacLeish family)

DOVER — She can’t remember how the lemonade stand idea happened.

Hailey Carey will never forget the response it received, though.

For two days earlier this month, Hailey and her sister Dakota MacLeish served $1 cups to Dover Police officers sometimes arriving two or three at a time in front of their Nimitz Road residence.

City law enforcement had learned that the girls were trying to raise back to school money to help their family challenged by older brother Thomas Carey’s inoperable brain tumor.

Dozens of officers and civilian staff members rolled by regularly Aug. 10 and 11, some paying $5, $10, $20 or even $100 for a just a few sips of lemonade.

Eventually over $500 was raised.

The stand opened on Wednesday, Aug. 9 and Dover PD Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman learned of the venture that night when April MacLeish, the girls’ mother, invited officers to come by via Facebook. Cpl. Hoffman emailed every member of the agency about the cause, who responded in force.

After Thomas was diagnosed with the tumor in January 2016, his mother quit two jobs as a restaurant manager to support him, placing financial stress on the family.

Hailey, 12, and Dakota, 7, wanted to help out and decided lemonade sales were the way to go. It wasn’t an easy sale to their parents April and Joshua.

“We said ‘no, no, no’ several times and they kept pestering us,” Mrs. MacLeish said. “Finally we thought ‘Oh, what’s it going to hurt?’”

Their labor of love approved, the girls spent several hours each day peddling the drinks. The summer heat beat them down, but not out.

When it rained on the weekend, Hailey was undaunted.

“She tried to do it in the rain on Saturday and lasted about an hour,” Mrs. MacLeish said. “I kept attempting to get her to come in earlier but she said, ‘No Mom, I need to do this, I need to do this for the family,’ “

Rising eighth-grader Thomas, 13, and his fourth-grade brother Joshua MacLeish Jr. also contributed to the stand.

Thomas and his mother spend eight to 10 hours in Philadelphia each Tuesday while Thomas receives chemotherapy.

“We almost lost him at one point due to chemo, which is why they spread it out for so long,” Mrs. MacLeish said.

After being homebound last school year, Thomas plans to return to Central Middle School this month. He said he’s “just looking forward to seeing my friends and stuff.”

Looking outside, Thomas couldn’t believe what he saw as business boomed.

“It was exciting to see so many people come to help us,” Thomas said. “I didn’t expect that many people, I’m so happy that so many came.”

The toughest part of running the stand was “being outside all day,” said Hailey, an upcoming Central Middle School seventh-grader.

Of her main customers, the police, she said, “They’re very nice.”

When the operation began, Mrs. MacLeish was startled by the officers’ arrival.

“I was puttering around the house when I looked out and said ‘Oh, my God, what are the police doing here?’” Mrs. MacLeish said.

She quickly came around to realize just how special their visits were.

“They’re truly amazing,” Mrs. MacLeish said. “I’m at a loss for words. They’re a blessing in disguise, that’s all I can say.”

Standing with donated bicycles to replace stolen ones are Dover Police Animal Control Officer Ryan Knowles with, from left, Thomas Carey, Joshua MacLeish Jr., Dakota MacLeish and Hailey Carey.

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Positive interactions

Community-police relations were never on better display than those days at the MacLeish home.

“My hope is that not just my children can see that cops are human, they care, they have hearts,” Mrs. MacLeish said.

Police responded in kind, describing the children as heroes.

“Hearing some of the hardships the family has had to endure recently and seeing the children wanting to help their parents/family however they knew how was just incredible and speaks volumes about their character,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

“The children weren’t raising money for video games, candy, or toys, but for school clothes and supplies to help their parents out, knowing what they were going through. That really had an impact on our people and we wanted to show our support for the family, but also our appreciation for the children’s efforts to go out and earn what they wanted.

“They literally took the lemons life gave them and made lemonade! It was a pleasure to be able to give the kids some DPD T-shirts, the bicycles, and of course spend some time with them over a glass of lemonade.”

Lemonade was only part of the story — Dover Police Animal Control Officer Ryan Kowles secured donations to replace bikes recently stolen from the family, along with locks and helmets. The bikes range from 20 to 27 inches and came from the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund via the Houston Fire Company.

An additional $200 came from the Dover Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15, which arrived after the family declined to be part of its annual back-to-school shopping program.

“We weren’t expecting anything at all,” Mrs. MacLeish said. “I profusely told Officer Hoffman that it wasn’t necessary and make sure to take care that the other families are taken care of.

“I know we’ll get through it together as we always do and there are so many others out there that have it worse than us.”

According to Cpl. Hoffman, the Farrell Fund “specializes in giving back to others and since many police officers are also volunteer firefighters, it’s only fitting to work together in a time of need, and this seemed like the right time.”

 

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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