Philanthropy planted by replacement pot

NEWPORT BEACH — It was one of those little things that doesn't mean much to one person, but can mean a lot to someone else.

When Newport Beach Police Officer Dave Syvock casually offered his own giant planter to a resident who had hers destroyed by vandals, he didn't know how far she'd take it.

On top of just saying "thanks," she wrote a letter commending Syvock and sent it to the chief of police.

"It's his personal property; it's worth something," said Diana Walker, the Balboa Peninsula resident whose 200-pound terra cotta planter was destroyed June 18. "But he just offered and took care of the whole thing."

"It was like Christmas in June!" she exclaimed.

Walker has had a hectic few months. Her mother died recently and now the house on the peninsula is up for sale. On June 18, Walker got a call from her mother's neighbors saying someone had destroyed the planter that held her mom's three-foot cigar plant, which has red buds shaped like cigars at the ends.

"It was smashed to smithereens," Walker said. "I knew there wasn't anything that could be done per se, but I just wanted to report it. I can't afford a planter that size. They're just too expensive. I was just going to demolish the plant."

Syvock responded to the vandalism call and met Walker. He immediately sympathized with her.

"I felt bad for the gal. I'd lost my dad awhile ago, too," Syvock said. "Obviously it was important to Diana to have her mom's plant taken care of. Little things like that are important when you lose someone in your life."

Syvock remembered he had an equal-sized planter at home, though admittedly not as nice as the one that had been broken. So the day after meeting Walker, Syvock and another officer stopped by her mom's home at 6 a.m. and put the mom's plant in its new home. They even swept up some of the dirt.

"I showed up and was ready to work, and it was all done. How wonderful," Walker said. "Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty. They've turned this around and now it makes me smile every time I look at it."

Syvock said he was humbled by Walker's letter to the chief.

"That was more than enough for me," Syvock said. "It was a solution to a problem. It's part of my job. I'm just glad it brought a little joy to her life."


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