'Show up, be present, be a beacon of light': Non-profit gives comfort gifts to Yelm police

YELM, Wash. - The strength of a community can be measured in many ways. For some, it's how we honor those who serve to protect.

“Show up, be present and be a beacon of light for somebody else,” says Annie Malone, owner of Yelm Crossfit.

It’s a place where people give it their all. They give each other hell. And they give back, too.

On this day, there’s a table full of donations, collected for Operation Ward 57, a non-profit supporting wounded, injured and ill service members and veterans.

Their mission is to deliver comfort kits to the Yelm Police Department. Inside; blankets, small toys, backpacks, and art supplies for children in need during difficult or domestic related calls. The comfort kits also contain a list of resources and phone numbers for veteran services.

“A significant portion of our population, that we come in contact with, officers come in contact with, are military families. They have ties to the military, somehow, and so having this with us in our cars at all times to brighten up somebody day is a very good thing for everybody,” says police chief Todd Stancil.

“It started because we saw there was a need. We have officers responding to stressful calls on a daily, hourly basis. And sometimes they involve our veterans and their children,” says Brittney Hamilton, with Operation Ward 57.

“You never know somebody’s story. You never know what’s going on in their personal lives. And by coming together and doing projects, we can help lift somebody else up that’s in need,” says Mandi Atkins with Operation Ward 57.

Operation Ward 57 provides those same services for the officers themselves; veterans, like Sgt. Rob Carlson.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, you feel like it’s just you against the world. But it’s really nice to be out in the community and have folks reach out to you and say thank you. Sometimes they don’t have the courage to do that, but when they do its very appreciated. I think that’s the same for the military community, as well,” says Carlson.

And that is how gains are made.

When we lift each other up, we raise the bar.

And, in doing so, we make each other stronger.

It’s the legacy of Navy veteran and Pierce County Sheriff’s Dep. Daniel McCartney, who was shot and killed while responding to a home invasion in Frederickson back in January.

“He was and still is a huge presence in here to the people. I can’t say enough about him,” says Malone.

Daniel’s image, something they look up to and his memory, forever in their hearts.

“His saying was ‘keep moving’ and that is something we stress to everyone here, when they are working out, is keep moving and keep moving through whatever we are going through at the time,” says Malone.

If the scale of a community is defined by the strength of its people, then maybe the people of Yelm find their strength, one rep at a time.

“When you empower somebody, to be able to help somebody else out, that is strength,” says Malone.

Lifting each other again…

And again…

And again…

“We are a small community, in Yelm, but we will get the job done,” says Malone.