MANSFIELD — Four years ago, Scott Jensen pulled into a gas station with his two daughters and saw a police officer sitting in his vehicle.
In 2016, relations between law enforcement and the public were strained. It was three years after the Black Lives Matter movement was founded in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, and the same year five police officers were killed by an Army Reserve Afghan War veteran angry over police shootings of black men.
When Jensen's daughters spotted the police officer, he said they were insistent on saying hello.
"It was when law enforcement was having a tough time, and you could tell by the look on his face that he appreciated it, and maybe even needed it," Jensen said.
His daughters' act of kindness inspired Jensen to do something special for all of Richland County's safety forces working on Thanksgiving Day. He packaged and delivered 157 dinners that year to all police and fire departments in the county.
Jensen dubbed his outreach "Operation Feed Red, White and Blue." This Thanksgiving, he delivered 300 individual dinners to 30 locations in Richland, Ashland and Crawford counties.
Now, for the Christmas season, Jensen is taking it one step further with the creation of "Operation Blue Letters." The goal is to mail Christmas cards created by children to police departments across the country.
"Anybody can mail a Christmas card, but I think it would touch them more if we had our kids do it," Jensen said. "They're our future, and I think that's the kind of reminder they need."
On Saturday, Jensen will have supplies available to create cards for Operation Blue Letters at Open Bible Church in Madison. Pick-up is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. for anyone needing craft supplies.
Completed cards can be dropped off in blank envelopes to GFS in Ontario or Boliantz Hardware on Ashland Road.
Jensen has a heart for law enforcement. With his help, he's partnering with Denim & Lace in Shelby to make Christmas gift bags for cops and firemen, Main Street Barbershop in Lexington is offering free haircuts from now until Christmas for law enforcement, and any law enforcement in Mansfield and Ontario call Dominos on Trimble or Lexington Avenue for a free pizza order between now and Christmas.
Everything Jensen does is an example to his girls, now ages 11 and 9. He said he wants to show them a way to take time during their holiday for something that really matters.
"These guys deserve it," Jensen said. "This year has been a nightmare, and they are easily forgotten until somebody needs them."
For more information about Operation Blue Letters, click here to join their Facebook group.