A battle has been brewing among Big Lake police officers over candy bars and other treats thanks to the warm hearts of a young Monticello couple.
Brady Gerhard and Paige Miller opened up their hearts and their pocketbooks to say thank you to a group of police officers who, themselves, showed warmth and kindness to a local resident who encountered a challenging time in his life.
Since a his days as a young boy, Brady Gerhard has always wanted to be a police officer.
And while serving on a police force wasn’t in the cards when it came to settling into a career, Gerhard has always had a place in his heart for supporting police officers.
Gerhard and his girlfriend Paige Miller live and work in Monticello. He works for Camping World, she works at Wells Fargo Bank.
This Fall, Gerhard and Miller heard the stories of a Big Lake man using his cellular telephone to help him find the location his son’s new home. A woman who saw the man took to Facebook and accused the man of being a “creeper” who was watching young children and taking pictures of them with his phone.
Cards, letters, gifts, food, gift cards, and even flowers poured into the Big Lake Police Department as the community came forward to support the erroneously accused man.
That got Brady Gerhard and Paige Miller thinking.
Gerhard wanted to do something nice for the Big Lake police officers, because they had been so nice and supportive of the Big Lake man who’s spirit had been crushed by false claims posted on social media.
Gerhard set off to buy a card to thank the Big Lake officers for their own acts of kindness.
But something happened in that card aisle.
“I realized that a card is just a card- and it doesn’t do much after it’s opened,” Gerhard said. “For those guys, a card probably just sits on a shelf.”
So Gerhard changed course. What if he could do something that would make a difference in the day of a police officer?
He started shopping for things that would make an officer’s day a better day.
“Things they could grab and go while on duty,” Gerhard said.
He purchased lots of water- about 10 cases or so. Cookies. He purchased 20 packages.
“I got four 6-packs of pop, some Gatorade and cases of energy drinks, like Monster,” Gerhard said.
He purchased for the department a new coffee maker, and all the coffee, creamer, sugar, and coffee cups to go with it.
Juice, candy bars, paper towels, tissues, and plastic silverware were also part of the haul.
“I wasn’t expecting all that when Brady came into my work to tell me what he had bought,” Miller said.
“He was pretty excited,” she said.
Why was Brady Gerhard so excited?
Like the falsely accused man in Big Lake, Gerhard and Miller said they themselves have experienced some rough times.
“I thought if we did something nice, it might come back favorably on us,” Gerhard said. “Maybe we could get some good karma.”
The next challenge was delivering all the goods to the officers.
On a recent Saturday, Gerhard and Miller drove the short distance from Monticello to Big Lake to drop off the gift.
However, like one might expect, there were no officer hours at the police station on a Saturday, and the on-duty officers were out on patrol.
Gerhard called the dispatch center at the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office.
“I told them I had a car full of stuff I wanted to give the police,” Gerhard said.
Two officers were dispatched to the police station, where the rest is history.
“I was completely blown away that someone would do that,” Big Lake Police Chief Joel Scharf said.
The donation from Brady Gerhard and Paige Miller is one of the biggest Scharf has ever seen made to his department.
“We were honored that they thought of us,” Scharf said.
“But we’re fighting a bit over some of the candy,” the police chief said with a laugh.
Big Lake police posted the kind act of Gerhard and Miller on its Facebook page, where the outpouring of kindness and support was overwhelmingly positive, Miller said.
The Monticello couple hopes to make a similar donation to another law enforcement agency- maybe in Blaine where Gerhard’s uncle is a police sergeant.
“We plan to do it again someday- hopefully even bigger,” Gerhard said.
But future plans will call for a little help from the public.
“It wasn’t easy to do this all by ourselves,” he said.
But at the end of the day, Gerhard and Miller say they received far more from their good gesture than they gave.