MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Serving as police chief for more than a decade, Lee Sjolander represents more than just a uniform in this town of under 2,000 people.
He’s not only there to help keep residents safe, but to help them thrive.READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: 5 More Deaths Reported, With Hospitalizations Still Trending Up
The “Garage of Goodness” was one way he and his officers did. With donations from the community, the department would host the free garage sale during the first week of December. Everything from clothes, to holiday decorations, to furniture were available for anyone in need.
“All we ask is that it goes to a good home, it fills a need, and that you pay it forward whenever you can. That’s the only thing we have ever asked,” said Sjolander.
But last year, the Christmas spirit of giving was tarnished. Chief Sjolander learned some patrons took items from the garage to re-sell on social media sites and at pawn shops.READ MORE: Overnight Shooting Leaves 3 Hurt In St. Paul; 1 Injured Man Arrested As Suspected Shooter
“If the public starts hearing that the wonderful items that they are donating are being taken and sold, it really defeats the purpose of the program,” said Sjolander. “And it really hurts our feelings.”
Because of the actions of a small group of people, he was forced to make the difficult decision to cancel the event, impacting everyone who received a little piece of good ahead of the holidays.
“It’s really, really sad. I really wish we could keep on doing it,” said Sjolander.MORE NEWS: Eligible Minnesotans Can Now Submit Requests For $100 COVID Vaccine Reward: 'This Is The Time To Do It'
He says he would be more than willing to help out anyone from the area who wants to take over the Garage of Goodness event and host it in the future.