Helping kids smile during pandemic

By Josh Folck,

In these tough times, the Catasauqua Police Department is determined to bring some smiles to young people’s faces.

While in-person learning is halted as schools remain closed, the department posts recordings of officers Jenna Dumansky-Potak and Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother Patrick Best [Eastern Kentucky ’80] reading books on its Facebook page Mondays through Fridays.

Most of the books are provided by Sheckler Elementary School in Catasauqua. The first reading post was March 30. The officers also celebrated Autism Awareness Month with a book on the topic in April.

Potak developed a Chalk Your Walk program, too, where kids are encouraged to write a message or draw a picture on their walkways/driveways for all the first responders to see. The department hands out flyers promoting the idea when they help with Catasauqua Area School District’s food distribution on Tuesday and Thursday at Scheckler.

Parents can send photos of the artwork with a message to the Catasauqua Police Facebook page and they will be posted. Potak said she can also stop at houses to take a photo of youthful creativity.

“My goal was to bring a smile to someone’s face. And a smile it did bring,” Potak said. “I hear from residents how much they love all the positive words and bright, colorful drawings. Our town is decorated with happiness! The kids love being part of this and love showing us what they drew.”

The department also created “Flat Pat.” Officers drew “Flat Pat” in several locations in Catasauqua.

If kids are able to find “Flat Pat,” they are asked to take a photo of him and send it to the police Facebook page. The department would like to expand the program once the stay-at-home order is lifted.