At first, Terrie Dash seemed concerned when Covington Deputy Police Chief Stephen Culotta approached her.
She was parked at the library and sitting in the back of her SUV – rear door open – when he walked up.
But Dash wasn’t on the department’s naughty list. Instead, Culotta handed her a $100 bill as part of the city’s annual Secret Santa giveaway, designed to give dozens of local residents a financial boost during the holiday season while giving officers a chance to practice random acts of kindness.
“Listen, nobody’s in trouble,” he said, smiling. “We want to give you a little something to help out with Christmas this year.”
Dash’s concern turned to surprise. Then came the tears.
“Thank you,” she said as she gave Culotta a hug, before adding that the gesture “means the world” to her.
Dash wasn’t the only one to receive money from Culotta on Thursday. He had two other $100 bills to hand out.
The first went to Ashley Smith, a cashier in the first window at McDonald’s on La. 25. By the time Culotta pulled up to the second window to get his iced tea, word had spread to the other workers, who urged Culotta to pull his truck back around to get them the next time.
After leaving McDonald’s, Culotta went to the CVS on West 21st Avenue. When a woman and her baby left the store, Culotta turned on the flashing lights on his truck and drove over.
“Do I need to move?” a worried Melissa Jones said.
“No, ma’am, you’re perfectly fine,” Culotta said. Then he handed her the $100 bill, which she said will help with caring for her 7-month-old daughter, Kristen.
Officers gave away a total of $6,500 this year, which came from anonymous donors, according to Lentz.
“We’re blessed to live in a community that cares,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the friends we have here in Covington who allow us to do something like this.”
(c)2017 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
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