Local police officers carry out random acts of kindness for kids

CLEVELAND -- Kids across Northeast Ohio today got a surprise when they might have least expected it: a surprise from the police.

Local police officers carryied out random acts of kindness,  handing out toys, gift cards and more to kids they met on the streets or at parks.

The special day was organized by the Sea of Blue organization, a group that works toward building better relationships between police and the communities they protect.

Founder Mary Jo Graves said, "Our goal is to get the police in touch with the community. Officers are always asking me when we are having our next event and to please let them know. So when we offered this, these officers jumped at the opportunity. They love it."

The group says officers from Cleveland, Parma, and Warrensville Heights will be taking part.

Parma Police participated in random acts of kindness in memory of fallen Cleveland Police Officer Wayne Leon. Leon's brother is currently a Sergeant with Parma Police who handed out toys and gift cards to families on the 17th anniversary of his brother's shooting death.

"It's a good opportunity for us to give back to the community," said Sgt. Dean Leon. "Oftentimes these people deal with us when they are not having such a great day. We come up to them and try to make their day a little bit better."

"Wayne was a very giving person," said Parma Deputy Chief Joe Manning. "He would have been doing something like this so it's partially a tribute to him and also we want people to know that when we walk up to them they don't have to be scared."

The Sea of Blue has done this before, but the random acts project has grown.

"It's a welcome change to bring good to the community. Most people interact with police during emergencies or hard times, but today, these officers are going out specifically to bring smiles to them."

"It was actually a good opportunity because our daughter is only two to kind of introduce her to the police as well and say 'Hey these guys are on our side they are here to help us,'" said Jason Abelow who was surprised at a park by police with toys.

Sea of Blue purchased $1,200 dollars worth of toys to be distributed to three departments. They hope this event will grow next year but need additional donations to ensure it can. You can click here to donate. 

**More on the Sea of Blue, here**