For birthday, Columbus woman anonymously treats local police to lunch

A Columbus resident celebrating a birthday treated Columbus Police Department officers this week to lunch to thank them for their service.

The note to the randomly selected officers starts out, “You don’t know me, but today is my birthday, and I would like to buy you lunch.”

In a Monday letter addressed to officer Maren Crabtree released on social media, the individual said the idea started when her grandmother would insist on sending $50 in birthday money, despite the fact the anonymous individual was in her 30s.

“I would tell her that I wasn’t going to spend it on myself, and would then buy lunch for firefighters, EMTs or police officers. (You would be surprised how difficult it is to do that quietly and without them knowing),” the letter states.

The grandmother died in January, and in honor of her the individual bought lunch for five city officers this week using gift cards.

“This world is surely missing some of its sparkle,” the individual said of her grandmother’s death. “Today is my shot at bringing some of that back.”

This year’s recipients came from a conversation the individual had with her son’s kindergarten teacher whose husband is a former Columbus police officer. He provided a list of unsung hero officers.

“Folks whose names might not always be in the paper but who really deserve an extra pat on the back,” the letter writer wrote as a description of the recipients. “He gave me quite a list, so I literally drew names out of a hat,” the letter states.

“So there you go, a free lunch, and even better, the fact that a peer nominated you for it,” the letter states.

“It was one of the nicest things I’ve ever gotten, especially with everything that’s been going on,” said Crabtree, who has been on the force for about 18 months and whose gift card was for Chick-fil-A.

In the past couple of weeks since police officers nationally have been killed or injured in shootings, Crabtree said the department has received care packages and notes of support on nearly a daily basis.

Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman, said this might be the first time someone has organized an ongoing and anonymous way to buy lunch for officers.

The individual, who didn’t want recognition or thanks, only asked the recipients to provide a short list of officers who might be deserving of lunch on July 18, 2017, and provided a self-addressed, stamped envelope to make that as easy as possible for next year.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything that you do,” the individual wrote. “I hope that you always come home safe.”

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.