WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A police officer in Florida went above and beyond the call of duty to help a crime victim salvage the giving spirit of Christmas. What he intended as a personal act of compassion brought attention that he did not seek.
The story begins with a burglary at a downtown West Palm Beach construction site, reported WPTV. Charlotte Rivera stashed her daughter’s presents in her office at the location. Burglary suspect(s) broke into the business and boosted the gifts.
Officer Gus Chavez responded to the call for service.
“It was going to be a tough Christmas for her. She had saved all year for her kids,” Chavez said. “It got to me. I only had 70 bucks on me. I gave it to her, and I knew she had lost a lot more than that.”
After giving her the cash he had in his possession, the 30-year police veteran told Rivera to stay put, promising to be back. He went to his bank and pulled out more money. When he came back, he handed her an additional $300.
This was not a self-congratulatory publicity stunt by Chavez, quite the contrary. He asked Rivera to keep his generosity private.
“It was unreal,” Rivera said. “Now, I don’t have to worry about having to replenish or not being able to replenish the things that were taken.”
“She was almost in shock,” Chavez smiled. “She didn’t want to accept it, and I told her she had to because it was from my family to hers.”
It was a gift that made Rivera’s Christmas.
While Chavez asked Rivera to keep things private, she had to publicly acknowledge her gratitude for his generosity.
Rivera and her boss worked with the police department to surprise Officer Chavez and thank him for his good deed. He was dispatched back to the construction site, thinking he’d be taking care of more business. When he arrived, Rivera picked him up in a golf cart and drove him over to a crowd of people waiting to honor him. He was given a certificate of appreciation before an approving group of onlookers.
“I wasn’t expecting this or looking for this,” Chavez said after the ceremony. “I just wanted to put a smile on her face and her kids’ face and that was it. But I’m more than blessed and grateful for this.”
WPTV reported the police were able to solve the crime with the help of video surveillance. The identity of the Grinch was not disclosed.