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Previous jail cells now hold toys, clothes

Posted at 6:05 PM, Dec 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 19:05:20-05

OSHKOSH — The second floor of Oshkosh's Public Safety Building has undergone some dramatic changes. It once housed the county jail, but now it holds toys, clothes, and other goods for people in need. Oshkosh Police Public Affairs Crime Prevention Officer Kate Mann explained that this collection was put together to allow officers to help those who need the items.

“We wanted officers to have access to items 24/7, so if they encounter a crisis situation or somebody in need they have immediate access to these needed items," Officer Mann said.

As she sorted through a rack of coats, Mann explained that the items stored in the area she calls the "Community Crisis Closet" are made available for patrol officers who encounter people in need.

“School resource officers have used these jackets for kids who are in need at school,” she said.

Some other items, though, are given directly to charitable organizations.

One such organization is the Salvation Army's Toys for Tots program, and Major James Mungai said their guests have been very appreciative of the donations Oshkosh Police and other organizations have provided.

“This is the table, it got picked through pretty good!” he said, pointing to a mostly-empty table that was once stacked "halfway to the ceiling" with donations from police.

Mungai says donations like the ones received from the police department make a big difference in people's lives.

“We had a mom in here just two days ago, who, literally, when she got a bicycle for her son and she had tears in her eyes because that’s what he wanted, and she couldn’t afford it,” he said.

For Officer Mann though, helping others is all part of the role.

“That’s our job right? To protect and serve…" she said, "and that’s not just always writing a citation or taking someone to jail. It’s thinking outside the box. How can we improve this person’s life, and make our city safer?”