Under Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order, police officers, paramedics and other first responders across the state have been working overtime to keep communities safe and healthy.

Businesses, churches and community members have expressed gratitude to Verona Police Department officers by donating food, sanitation materials and personal protective equipment.

Appreciative Veronans have donated several dozen cupcakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes and two dozen Verb energy bars, a case of mandarin oranges, a canister of Lysol disinfecting wipes and a large bottle of hand sanitizer.

Sugar River United Methodist Church donated lunch boxes to the whole department from Jason’s Deli.

As part of what it’s calling the COVID-19 Lunch Program, Sugar River has also donated the lunch boxes to the nursing unit at a Madison hospital actively caring for COVID-19 patients and plans to send the boxes to Miller and Sons Supermarket to thank grocery workers.

“One of the things we’re doing at Sugar River each week is recognize community essential workers. We’re trying to make connections with people and male sure they recognize we appreciate them and their hard work. It’s a privilege to show our appreciation,” Erin Wilson, director of the church’s Serve Team said.

Memorial Baptist Church provided lunches for the entire department from Jimmy John’s.

“We just did it because we care about the police department and so grateful for work first responders are doing,” Jeremy Scott, pastor at Memorial Baptist Church said. “The Bible says love our neighbors as ourselves – they are our neighbors – we wanted to provide a bright spot in their day.”

Dr. Sarah Kalstrup of True Veterinary Care already had a good relationship with the Verona Police Department, as she provided care for its K9 unit, Drea, working closely with Drea’s handler officer Matt Kile.

The police department reached out to Kalstrup when it was struggling to source digital thermometers for its staff. Kalstrup helped VPD get 12 digital thermometers.

“They couldn’t get them anywhere, and we have the ability to get them from our distributor, so it was the right thing to do,” Kalstrup said. “We sponsor their K9 unit, so it was natural to support the humans, as well.”

Gary Bongey, pharmacist at Hometown Pharmacy, also didn’t hesitate when he was approached to donate thermometers by two officers at the store.

“A couple officers stopped in to ask if we had any no-touch thermometers available. We had two in the warehouse,” Bongey said. “The police department is where they needed to go. In these pandemic times, people get into saving and hoarding behavior. A thermometer becomes just one of four they keep in the closet.”

Carl Miller of Miller and Sons Supermarket donated five gallons of bleach. Adam and Jami Porter, owners of Verona’s Culver’s, sent the department 16 pints of custard.

Ryan Swanson, owner of Mr. Brews Taphouse, provided lunch and dinner to all VPD employees one afternoon.

“Mr. Brews Taphouse is more than just a restaurant, we try playing a dynamic role in the community,” Swanson said. “The Verona police department plays a big role in the safety of our community and we appreciate that.”

Yahara Bay Distillers donated a dozen bottles of its hand sanitizer.

“I said, let’s just run around and get it to people who need it, and if they don’t need it, they’ll share it with someone who does need it,” Nels Forde, general manager of Yahara Bay said.

The Verona Area School District provided a case of N95 masks it had in storage and a case of antiseptic wipes. They also extended a standing offer to use the district’s school spaces for any needs, which VPD has yet to take VASD up on.

“We just reached out to Fitch-Rona EMS and Verona PD to see if there was anything we could do to help them or provide them – any materials we could scrounge up for PPR or space we could provide,” Dean Gorrell, district superintendent said. “They’re working so hard in support of all of us, the least we can do is support them.”

“The Verona community is very generous and supportive of the Verona Police Department, and we are grateful that we are able to serve such wonderful people,” police chief Bernie Coughlin said.

Neal Patten, community reporter, can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.