SHIRLEY — When two police cars pulled up to her Shirley home, Dena Grider wasn’t sure what to think.

Surely she wasn’t in trouble, Grider thought.

Quickly, Police Chief Brian Pryor told her he and detective Brent Burris were there to make a special delivery: gifts to put under the tree for her granddaughter and all the fixings for a holiday meal.

Nobody likes to see the police at their door, Burris joked, but on Friday, the officers hoped families would welcome them into their homes.

Pryor, Burris and their families spent the day delivering gifts and food baskets to families in need of a little extra holiday cheer.

The department teamed up with Mooreland Communications in Carmel to provide families in need in Shirley and Wilkinson the makings of a merry Christmas.

Burris’ wife, Kim, is the IT director there, and her department set up a giving tree, each picking families in the Shirley and Wilkinson area to buy presents and food for.

Then they asked the local police department to make the deliveries.

Burris worked with other town officials to identify six families in need of some extra help this holiday. On Friday, Burris and Pryor called the families to let them know the police needed to stop by.

Then, they visited the homes, hauling in wrapped presents for each member of the family, a box of food, a ham and a sack of potatoes.

Grider teared up as the group placed packages under her tree. Before their arrival, there were no gifts there. It’s been a tough year, she said, and there’s not much room in the budget for presents.

“I’m truly touched,” she said. “This is wonderful.”

Along for the ride were Burris’ daughter, Nicole, and her friend, Renee Hyer, both Mt. Vernon Middle School students.

Nicole and Renee are Girl Scouts, and they were happy to spend one of their first days of Christmas break helping out because it feels good to give to others, they said.

Friday was the first time the department has handed out gifts to families in the community, Burris said.

He and the department signed on for gift-giving duties because the officers want to give back to their community, especially during the holidays, he said.

“We’re not just out here to write tickets. We’re here to do this, too. We’re here to help,” Burris said.

As they made their way through town, Pryor told the families he and the others were happy to assist.

“We just hope this helps,” he said.

Author photo
Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or