Part of a law enforcement family, 9-year-old Mackenzie Bezner always wants to do a little something around the holidays to show appreciation for those who serve the community.
But this year her parents felt her goal was a bit too ambitious.
In early November, the Lower Heidelberg Township girl told her mother that she wanted to make greeting cards to deliver to police departments in her area. She set a goal of 300 cards.
“I thought, ‘She’s definitely going to need help,’” her mother, Amanda, said.
Her mom made a flier that she posted on her Facebook and Instagram profiles, saying Mackenzie wants to make sure that all her local police departments get Christmas cards to spread holiday joy this season to those public servants.
She said she would have a box in front of their home until Dec. 10 for those that wished to contribute cards — store-bought or hand-made.
No cards came in for days, but as Thanksgiving approached, word spread, and as people started getting into the holiday spirit, the cards flooded in.
“From then on it was just craziness,” Amanda said.
Cards came from all over: 50 from a group of employees at Boscov’s; 50 from Hain’s Church in Wernersville; five from a woman in St. Louis whose father was a New York City police officer and just loved what Mackenzie was doing.
A bunch came from their neighborhood. Three girls in their neighborhood made 150 cards.
Others came from Wilson School District staff and some of Mackenzie’s classmates at Green Valley Elementary School.
Normally shy, Mackenzie went to her principal one day and informed him of what she was doing and she told her friends at school. Several of her classmates surprised her by bringing in a bunch of cards they made at home.
The project was a smashing success by any measure. She more than doubled her goal, collecting 679 cards.
“My husband said, ’How many departments are you doing?’” Amanda said. “I said, ‘I guess all of them.’”
Early this week, they set out to deliver cards to 20 police stations in Berks County and the sheriff’s office. They started with the larger departments, including her dad’s workplace, Cumru Township Police Department.
Her father, Michael, is a sergeant at Cumru. Her paternal grandfather, Steve Bezner, is a former Lower Heidelberg Township police chief, among other close relatives who have worked in law enforcement.
Police department members have just loved getting the cards delivered in person by Mackenzie, her mother said.
“She loves the police,” her mother said proudly.
It's a morale-boosting show of appreciation that can't be done enough, said Reading police Capt. Brian Rogers, who heads the patrol division.
"It’s always uplifting when someone in the community reaches out in appreciation of what our officers do," he said. "We are part of the community, too. We’re out there 24 hours a day regardless of weather conditions or what’s going on in the world."