Suspense marked the first time Duvraska “Duvi” Mendoza and her 17-year-old son, Gabriel Suarez, walked into the Morris County Correctional Facility on Dec. 20, 2019.
But their fear melted away the moment Morris County Sheriff’s Office Local 151 member James Gannon and a dozen law enforcement officers stepped in front of the mother-son duo to present a $4,500 check from Halos for Angels. Tears immediately sprung to Suarez’s eyes, as his mother stood shell-shocked.
“When I saw the check, I was at a loss for words,” Suarez reminisced. “I didn’t know so many people would care about our story. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Mendoza is in recovery from breast cancer, and the expensive treatments left their family in financial and emotional disarray. When the Morris County Sheriff’s Office learned about the family’s heartbreaking story, the staff knew they had to find a way to provide resources.
“There’s always dark times in our lives, as we’ve all experienced,” Gannon related. “This makes us feel so good. We hope it can help you out a little bit in your day.”
Halos for Angels, the charity formed in partnership with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, was created more than a decade ago by Karen Casolaro, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The nonprofit seeks to assist families who have suffered similar tragedies or are dealing with unexpected crises.
Not long after its formation, Halos for Angels joined with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, which has been involved in collecting monetary donations and gifts for the charity ever since.
“The Morris County Sheriff’s Office has really made such a difference,” Casolaro said, gushing. “It’s such a blessing. They not only help out at holiday times but throughout the year, and that’s very unique.”
Officers and non-sworn staff contributed to making up the total gift of $4,500, along with additional toys and presents for Halos for Angels. A significant portion of the money came from the No-Shave November and December fundraisers that were spearheaded by Corrections Bureau Corporal Peter Lenahan.
The gift is an incredible example of officers giving back to their community.
“We’re here for you,” Gannon shared with the mother and son. “We’ll keep you in our prayers and ask that you keep all of us in your prayers.”