Massachusetts police officers surprised four-year-old Jaiden “JJ” Clifford with gifts in a special visit to his home on Sunday.
After 4-year old JJ’s mother was brutally stabbed to death in November, his Christmas outlook seemed bleak. There was a space around the tree that would never be filled, and a family suffering through grief amidst the trappings of love and celebration of family. That her killer was captured is small comfort to a little boy looking for a mother that will never come home.
Leominster Police Officer — and President of the Leominster Police Association — Dan Cantois simply would not let that stand. After finding out that Clifford was enamored with heroic law enforcement officers, he decided to make sure the child’s Christmas was as bright as possible, despite the tragic circumstances.
Cantois brought ten local police departments together to surprise JJ with a special Christmas visit. “We only had maybe a week of preparation, but every agency we called in the area was very excited to send someone down and try to make JJ smile,” Cantois said.
And it worked, perhaps even better than Cantois himself could have predicted. “I spoke to the grandmother, so JJ kind of had an idea that we were coming, but I think they were just expecting a few cruisers,” he told CNN. “I don’t think they were expecting 20 cruisers to pull up on their street.”
Others pitched in to bury JJ in gifts. Fitchburg City Solicitor Vincent Pusateri II donated a bicycle, and even the Leominster Walmart donated toys. JJ spent time with the officers — including a very fuzzy member of the K-9 unit — trying on their hats and sitting in their squad cars. All of it, as Cantois said, to communicate one thing: “We’re here for you.”
A heartwarming Facebook post detailed the event with photos of JJ and his new friends:
“We were there for about an hour, and he had a smile on his face the whole time,” Cantois said. “That was the best part.” But amidst all of the praise directed toward him, Cantois kept the focus on JJ. “We just wanted to brighten his day, put a smile on his face and help out the family.”