Cannelton officer takes helping children to heart

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By Janet Robb

CANNELTON - A desire to ensure students make it safely to school and a love of helping the community spurred one man's quest to become a reserve police officer. Since then, he's become an icon of sorts for students, staff and the citizens of Cannelton.

Five days a week, in rain, sleet, snow and sun, Lewis Stubbs Jr. keeps a watchful eye on the students at Cannelton City Schools.

He has been a Cannelton Police Department reserve officer since 2005 and spends his days making sure children cross the street safely. He also walks the halls to make sure the school stays safe.

"He has such a knowledge of the children and knows them all by name," John Kleeman, Cannelton reserve officer commander, said. They call him Officer Poppy, he added, saying "if you asked the students his name, that's what they'd say."

Stubbs said one of his favorite stories since he's been with the school deals with a lesson on flowers. During the lesson, the teacher asked students if they knew what a poppy was. One girl raised her hand and told the teacher that poppy is the person who lets them cross the street.

"I love to deal with kids and people," Stubbs said of his favorite part of the job. "It's not the pay. I like to do anything to help the community." He said he does anything that needs to be done, whether it's clearing steps of snow to sitting with students while teachers attend to other business.

"He has a desire to be a positive presence for the kids," Kleeman said. "He's made a tremendous difference by being there."

After his first year of service, Stubbs' fellow officers surprised him by presenting him with officer of the year award. "I was really shocked," he said, adding that he was the first reserve officer to receive the honor.

Kleeman, who gave the speech for the award, said he remembers that at a fundraiser held by the police department, Stubbs noticed a few kids walking back and forth, looking at the booth. Soon after, Stubbs bought the kids some food and tried to sneak it to them so none of the other officers knew what he was doing.

"It just touched all of us to see this," Kleeman said. "Lewis is just an outstanding man. He doesn't do this for the recognition, he does it out of the good of his heart."

His wife, Cynthia Stubbs said he also gives coats and clothes to children who don't have them and gives rides to those who need to get to appointments. "He's a great husband and man," she said.

"Don't let her build me up too high," Stubbs said, laughing.