A 10-year-old boy from southern Vermont is getting a big boost in his recovery from surgery through gifts from police departments from all over the country.
Jacob McKee Gratton of Arlington has received shoulder patches in the mail from police departments from around the nation and world, from as far away as Alaska and even New Zealand. He said he absolutely loves seeing police dogs and cruisers in action, and considers the police his friends.
"It's really special," the third grader at Fisher Elementary School in Arlington said, showing one of his recent gifts to necn.
Jacob was born with an incomplete skull, is developmentally delayed, and just returned to school following major surgery for a spinal cord problem that was causing him headaches and nausea.
Asked how receiving packages from police officers who want to wish him well makes him feel, Jacob responded, "happy!"
The gifts are in response to posts on the Cards for Jacob Facebook page Jake's mom started.
"I think it's helped him," Sharon Gratton said, noting she at first only thought her son would receive a few get-well messages or postcards from officers he looks up to. As of Tuesday, he had received more than 210 patches from around the state, country, and overseas.
Gratton said the surprise instant collection has been a real pick-me-up, because her third grader can't use the playground while he recovers from that recent operation and braces for more procedures to come.
"There's so many nice people out there," Gratton said of the response to her posts. "You don't see that too much anymore. You kind of see the bad stuff going on. And the police-- there's so much bad press on the police. And they're great guys. Look what they're doing for this little boy!"
Gratton said she and her family are still hoping for patches from Hawaii, Utah, Texas, and a few other states, to collect patches from all 50 states. She told necn that she is working on devising a way to somehow turn all the patches into a quilt.
As for Jacob, he said he is grateful for so much support from total strangers. "Thank you," the 10-year-old beamed.
Sharon Gratton said the family has declined offers of video game systems and other pricier gifts, and really only wants get-well cards or the patches. Those can be sent to:
Cards for Jacob
3894 Vermont Route 313-W
Arlington, VT 05250
Gratton said in addition to police departments, the family has also received patches from fire departments, boy scout troops, and branches of the military.