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Check your wallets: It’s National Use Your Gift Card Day

Check your wallets: It’s National Use Your Gift Card Day

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Saturday is National Use Your Gift Card Day.

The day is meant as a reminder for shoppers to use their gift cards that they may have already forgotten about.

Americans leave millions of dollars worth of gift cards unused every year. So take a look in your wallets, bags or boxes for any gift cards you may have missed.

Plus, be sure to check for deals that might maximize your gift cards. Many work just like cash and can be used in conjunction with coupons.

If you can’t find anything you like, you can organize a gift card swap party, sell it for cash or donate it to charity.

See below for some of the deals available at participating stores:

  • AMC Theatres – Customers can access AMC exclusive offers as long as they remember to use their gift card.
  • BurgerFi – Get a free order of fresh hand cut fries when customers download the BurgerFi App and use a gift card.
  • Chipotle – Join Chipotle Rewards and use a gift card to earn points towards free Chipotle.
  • Kohl’s – Use your gift card and earn $10 Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent.
  • LifeisGood.com – 10% off when you use a gift card.
  • Red Lobster – Use your Red Lobster gift card and create your own ultimate feast; pick four of more than 10 craveable creations for a feast that’s all your own.
  • Regal – Receive one free refill with a purchase of a large soft drink and/or large popcorn on the same day of purchase when you use your giftcard.
  • rue 21- 15% off total purchase when using a gift card, which is valid from Saturday, January 18 until January 26, 2020.
  • Saks OFF 5th – Use your Saks Off 5th gift card to shop in store or on saksoff5th.com and take advantage of the “Extra Cut Clearance Event” on January 18, 2020.
  • Simon Malls – Use your Simon Giftcard® at more than 200 Simon centers nationwide and treat yourself to no purchase fees on American Express® Simon Giftcards® on January 18th only.

CNN Newsource contributed to this report.

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Hamilton County’s ‘Wellness Unit’ part of nationwide effort to improve mental health among officers

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — An initiative to improve employee well-being at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is among a spate of efforts across the nation to address mental health concerns among officers.

Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush announced the department’s new “Wellness Unit”  — devoted to the physical, mental and spiritual health of its deputies, correctional officers and civilian employees — Friday in a Facebook post.

“Our guys really care about the public,” he said Monday in an interview with News 8. “When you see somebody who’s injured or victimized, it really impacts us… We’re only human.”

The Wellness Unit launched in January with funding approved by county council members and commissioners.

Appointments are held off-site at undisclosed locations to protect the privacy of employees. Supervisors are not briefed on which employees seek counseling or what they discuss during sessions.

Information gathered during counseling sessions will not be used to demote or discipline employees, and will only be disclosed if required by law, including when somebody poses an immediate danger to themselves or others.

The department’s entire staff will receive training related to suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, critical incidents, addiction, mindfulness and officer wellness, the sheriff said.

Nearly 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their life, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI); the suicide rate for police officers is four times higher than the rate for firefighters.

Years of daily exposure to stress, trauma and tragedy can have other devastating consequences if appropriate coping skills are not developed, according to Susan Sherer-Vincent, a licensed clinical social worker, certified alcoholism counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist involved in launching the Wellness Unit.

“Think of the hurricanes that come in, in Florida, and think of the palm trees where they bend,” she explained. “But then, what happens afterwards? They go back up. That’s called resilience. We want our officers to bend, not break.”

Until approximately 3 to 5 years ago, officers were often conditioned to “pull [themselves] up by the bootstraps and go to the next call” instead of addressing personal struggles, Sherer-Vincent said.

Cultivating resiliency can be difficult within a law enforcement culture that equates mental health challenges with “weakness,” she said.

“[Officers] are trained to have the warrior mentality,” Sherer-Vincent told News 8. “Truly, they would have been made fun of [in the past for seeking counseling].”

She compared strong, silent officers with underdeveloped coping skills to California’s famed redwood trees.

“They’re pretty sturdy. But what would happen if you took an ax and hit those every single day, day after day, for years? They would eventually fall,” she said.

Quakenbush credits his wife, church and non-law enforcement friends with providing “a really good support system.”

“But sometimes, you need a professional,” he said, urging employees to “talk through” negative emotions instead of turning to alcohol and other substances for temporary relief.

Several internal cases that resulted in disciplinary action during his year-long tenure as sheriff may have been prevented with wellness-focused intervention, Quakenbush said.

He was unable to comment on personnel matters. 

Sources within the department indicated some of the cases involved employees with substance abuse issues that had escalated over time, possibly as a result of work-related stress that had gone unaddressed. 

“I wouldn’t say that [disciplinary action] was happening often,” Quakenbush told News 8. “But seeing it happen and knowing that we probably could have done something about it made it impactful and something that we wanted to make a priority.”

Hamilton County announced its Wellness Unit days after New York City police officials revealed plans to hire a team of psychologists to combat a spike in officer suicides.

On Feb. 13, Indianapolis police officials said they planned to swear in the department’s first full-time therapy dog by the end of March.

  • FIND SUPPORT: Learn more about supporting law enforcement wellness on NAMI.org

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