A pair of officers enlisted the help of their colleagues and community to help deliver Christmas to children who recently lost their father to cancer.
On November 26, Constables Lucas Agnew and Scott Babin responded to a 9-1-1 call for a medical emergency. The officers arrived and located Ivan Vassilev with no vital signs. A woman was performing CPR as they arrived with paramedics who took over the duties of CPR. The man's pulse returned and he was transported to hospital where he later died.
The officers learned that Vassilev left behind his wife Roda Mihaylov and three children (ages 7, 9, and 14). He had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and had been in hospital for prior to being discharged on November 26 so he could spend time with his family as he did not have long to live.
Mihaylov is also undergoing treatment for cancer. The officers further learned that the children had waited to decorate their home for Christmas until their father had regained his strength in order to assist them. The children told the officers that they collect tree branches in the neighbourhood and tape them to the wall as a substitute for a Christmas tree. The family is struggling financially.
The officers took this matter to heart and decided to assist this family in having as merry a Christmas as will be possible without their father.
The officers went to the Home Depot on Curity Ave. to purchase a Christmas tree for the family. The officers spoke with the management of the Home Depot and explained why and what they were after. The manager of store decided that Home Depot would assist the officer’s efforts. The officers were given a reusable Christmas tree and the decorations to go with it.
The officers’ then surreptitiously delivered the tree and decorations to the family’s home.
Constables Babin and Agnew began to collect cash donations from their own B platoon and sent a request for donations to the other four platoons in 54 Division. The officers, on their own time, went to retailers and businesses in the Division and around their own homes, sharing their plan with them. As a result, they managed to receive on behalf of the family, gift cards from Cineplex, Walmart, Ripley’s Aquarium, Target, Sobey’s, Metro, Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Winners, Scotiabank and Fairview Mall.
Constable Agnew contacted the Toronto Police Association (TPA) to obtain gifts for the children. TPA president Michael McCormack offered the officers some gifts that were left over from the Association’s recent Christmas Party for members’ children. They have age appropriate gifts for the children. The officers also received gifts from members of Toronto Fire Services who gave toys and a gift card. The 54 Division Community Police Liaison Committee gave the officers cash to assist this family.
The total value of gifts, gift cards and cash given to this family from these officers in order to make this a Merry Christmas was just over $3,700.
These two officers have gone over and above their call of duty. These officers exemplify what it is to be a good citizen and are truly serving their community. In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, the officers have given of their own time, resources and have accessed the resources of their peers and contacts in the community to help the family of this tragedy.
The officers went to the family’s home on Sunday, December 21 and delivered all of the gifts with the assistance of the Toronto Parmedic Services crew that attended the original call. The officers observed that the tree had been set up and as of yet there were no presents under the tree. The officer soon remedied this by delivering an entire van load of gifts. Roda Mihaylov was overcome by the generosity of the officers and was left speechless. The children were stunned by the number of gifts.