Heights PD helps make holiday difference

Capt. Mike Matunas holds two gifts sent in from the Callahan family for the department’s annual contribution to the Toys for Tots drive, run by the U.S. Marine Corps. [COURTESY OF SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS POLICE DEPARTMENT]

SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS — The Spring Lake Heights Police Department was determined, with the help of a generous community, to help make a bit of a difference in people’s lives this difficult holiday season. 

In November, the department put their razors away for a month and teamed up with the Spring Lake Police Department for a No Shave November fundraiser to help raise money and awareness for men’s cancer.

While the police department participates in the fundraiser each year, this year it has a special importance as officers are raising the money in remembrance of former Spring Lake Police Sgt. Steve Blecki, who died of cancer in September of last year.


The Spring Lake Heights Police Association was able to donate a total of  $726.78 to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in memory of the officers’ friend. 

The department teamed up with Spring Lake Heights Elementary School for the fundraiser. During November, students and families at Spring Lake Heights Elementary School were able to donate to the cause through jars in classrooms. 

“It was great. The camaraderie with the Spring Lake Heights and Spring Lake police officers has been really good and brought all of us closer together to raise money for a good cause,” Capt. Mike Matunas, who runs the fundraiser, told The Coast Star. “We all had fun doing it. We had fun with each other and that made it even better.”


In December, the police department once again sent that word out to the community that it would be collecting gifts for the U.S. Marine Corps’ annual Toys for Tots fundraiser, which provides holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the area. 

Capt. Matunas, a former marine who also organizes the department’s Toys for Tots drive, said that with 2020 being such a tough year for many people he was not expecting as many donations this year as in years past. 

However, despite the hardships of the pandemic, this was the most successful year the department has ever had participating in the drive, which is all thanks to the generosity of the community. 

At least five truckloads, estimated by Capt. Matunas to be “easily” 700 gifts, were donated to the drive.

“I am just amazed by the giving this year during hard times, during COVID,” Capt. Matunas said. “But this is in my opinion the best year we’ve had in the 20 years that I’ve been doing it.

“The reaction we got from the community was unbelievable,” he said. “The community support has been overwhelming for us and we couldn’t be happier with the way our residents receive us.”

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