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How the Officer Saved Christmas

How the Officer Saved Christmas

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Chicago Tribune via YellowBrix

December 28, 2009

CHICAGO – Tondonlia Brown and her two young children escaped a Christmas morning fire, only to return to their South Side apartment and find burglars had stolen their gifts and much of what they owned.

Just as the holiday was looking grim, Chicago Police Officer Michael Lawrence stepped in with toys and a gift card. He’d responded to the burglary call, and after talking to Brown and the children, couldn’t get their plight off his mind.

“I saw a true sorrow in her face,” said Lawrence, 32, an eight-year veteran.

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Brown and her children, Shaun Taylor, 6, and Keiara Taylor, 2, are grateful.

“I will always have a place in my heart because of his generosity,” Brown, 30, said. “He was concerned and showed that he cared.”

Shortly after midnight Friday, Brown’s Englewood apartment caught on fire. Firefighters helped Brown and her children escape and the family was taken to St. Bernard Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Hours later, Brown got a call from the building superintendent. Her apartment had been robbed. Firefighters knocked in multiple windows to help the family escape. That left an opening for burglars to sneak through and steal the gifts under the Christmas tree, her big-screen television, clothes, jewelry and game systems, Brown said.

“I was devastated,” Brown said. “It was hard enough to go through the fire, but to come back home and find all of your belongings gone like that was unspeakable.”

Lawrence said he bought Brown and her children a $200 Sears gift card, two police action figures, and “Kids on Patrol” hats and T-shirts.

“I couldn’t imagine being a kid and going through that,” Lawrence said. “Although it’s been a tough Christmas, I hope things come through for them in the end.”

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