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Friday, April 25, 2014

Often in media ... and much the same in other fields such as retail and law enforcement, we are bound by the policies set in place that outline and guide what may be acceptable or unacceptable for us to do, to what we may explicitly be outright allowed or not allowed to do.

It was such policies that forced us at ENP to run a recent crime report of an arrest for the larceny of children's socks and underwear by a father of two small girls. This larceny having occurred at a Town of Lockport Dollar General. This crime report collectively broke our hearts at ENP. But held by policy and journalistic integrity, we simply can't pick and choose what we run or don't run in the news. So, it ran.

We imagine it was also policies set in place by a manager's employer that didn't allow any variance in charges being pressed by Dollar General against this father, and again policies set in place upon law enforcement to uphold the laws when responding to a store theft.

While all those involved may have had to carry out the actions they were required to in response to this theft, the saddest part of this report that stuck out, was that this father had walked to a Dollar General store, and of all things he could have stolen ... he took underwear and socks for two little girls. He didn't swipe anything worth any significant amount of money, no cell phones, or calling cards, or electronics, he didn't swipe candy, or anything remotely close to things that could satisfy guilty pleasures. He took $15 worth of socks and underwear for two small girls, noting he hadn't gotten anything for them in a long time ... two packs of socks, and one pack of underwear.

While we weren't there ... and admittedly thus don't know all the details, the report of this crime painted a fairly clear picture that this had been an action of necessity. Not pleasure. Not luxury.

Reading this report my first thought had been, "Well why hadn't someone just reached into their pockets and pulled out $15 to pay for those socks and underwear packages for those little girls to be able to have?" At no point could someone have realized the necessity of this man's situation and said, "Listen, I'll pay for those for you." — I wish I'd been there to have been able to do just that.

This is not to say I'm condoning theft, or letting people off the hook. What this man did to make ends meet was wrong. But in life sometimes our fellow community members, our neighbors, fall on hard times. Should it really be so far beyond us to witness such a situation, and then not lend some kind of helping hand?

I was disgusted by some of the reactions this report got on our news site and on Facebook. One comment was simply "lmfao." It appalls me to think someone could "laugh their f.a. off" at the misfortunes of such a sad situation. Perhaps that person has never known what it's like to be unable to afford even the basic necessities. This father now faces public ridicule and embarrassment, as may his two little girls. All undeserving in such a situation.

More often than not lately, the news is filled with sad, depressing, and even downright horrific stories, with little to counteract the impact those stories have upon us or our collective psyche. Perhaps it's time we as a community change that. Perhaps it's time we as a community step forward and build ourselves back up, together. Perhaps it's time we come together and ensure our neighbors are OK, that their basic needs are met, that we are there for each other on hard times. That we look at situations for what they are, and not ridicule, not further embarrass, mock, or degrade those affected, involved, or less fortunate ... Instead take these situations as a given opportunity to see where lending hands of help are needed, where a family can be given the resources to enable them to make ends meet without their needing to resort to illegal acts like theft.

I would ask each of you having read this to keep those less fortunate than yourself in mind. Lend a helping hand when a situation where you can do so is presented before you. It may be as simple as helping get two little girls' basic clothing needs met.

Heather N. Grimmer is a contributing photographer — and conscience — for East Niagara Post. She can be reached at

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