MISSOURI CITY – Missouri City Police Department officers are working to spread smiles amid the coronavirus pandemic. One Missouri City Police sergeant had an idea to make people feel special on their birthdays in ways they would not expect.
No one expects a greeting quite like this: sirens blaring and multiple police vehicles showing up at your door.
For 13-year-old Caleb Kirkpatrick, it was such a shock.
"Caleb, I can't see you! Front and center," Missouri City sergeant Russell D'Oench said through his vehicle's megaphone Thursday.
Caleb, who just turned 13, was very curious about what was going on until Russell began to sing.
"Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you," D'Oench sang.
Bringing a smile to Caleb's face, Caleb couldn't help but tell the story of his 13th Birthday right there.
"Then a bunch of sirens like super serious! 'I'm like, 'What's happening!' I come out, and they're like, 'Oh my god! Caleb, come out! Come out!" Caleb said.
It is precisely these "remember when" moments that D'Oench wanted to create when he started organizing birthday surprises to the children and the elderly during this time of isolation due to COVID-19.
"Smiles and fun because a majority of these birthday parties have been canceled," he said. "Friends can't come over. We can come over. We don't get out of the car."
For now, 13-year-old Joseph Blackshire, the police were the best surprise.
"It made me feel really proud and happy, and I just want to thank them for spending time with us," Blackshire said with a smile.
For Joseph's mother, Letitia Hall, the surprise was a relief.
"I'm so grateful that you all came out...to the Missouri City Police department," Hall said. "This has really made his day because we really didn't have anything to do because of the coronavirus, and I think this is going to really lift his spirits and everyone else's."
Stop by stop, Missouri City Police officers volunteer their time.
"It's really fun for us. It's doing something different than traffic stops," one officer said.
For Angela Johnson's twins, it was a remarkable 6th birthday surprise.
"They're twins; they're turning 6, and my boy wants to be a firefighter, so I think it's really cool. He loves first responders," Johnson said.
The police showed up for Gaynel Centanni's 67th Birthday.
"Oh, my goodness! I looked out the window and went, 'Oh! Oh!'" Centanni said.
She said she is thankful for the act of kindness. The teacher has been isolated from her students, and her children and grandchildren live in New York.
"We're all going through such hard times right now. I'm a teacher. I miss my students terribly," Centanni said.
For D'Oench, it's about spreading joy.
"Just want them to feel special, want them to feel unique," D'Oench said.
That's precisely what he did.
“To have this happen. It’s like the perfect Birthday,” Centanni said.