By Natasha Brown


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of families is working to build a better community after one of their neighborhood’s darkest days. Residents in one North Philadelphia community will never forget the barrage of bullets that flew during a hostage situation that took over the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood last summer.

On Thursday, residents were given quite the surprise in the midst of a neighborhood still dealing with violence.

Everyone in the room knows firsthand what it was like on Aug. 14 when a gunman terrorized their neighborhood.

Six police officers were shot and wounded while serving a warrant near 15th Street and Erie Avenue. A seven-and-a-half hour standoff ensued until the suspect finally surrendered.

Nearly 20 members of that neighborhood who were held hostage inside their homes that day met at a ShopRite in North Philadelphia to talk to officers and cadets about their community and their concerns.

“The officers, particularly in the 39th District, are very well-acquainted with the folks in that area. They get along very well, there’s great support on both sides so this is just to strengthen that,” FOP President John McNesby said.

The seriousness of the meeting was quickly lightened at the end by a big surprise. The Fraternal Order of Police, along with the organization Getting the Max Out of Life, surprised them with a $100 gift card to buy groceries for Thanksgiving.

“I just thought we were going to breakfast with the new recruits, then with the food, really surprised me,” resident Elaine Pendergrass said. “It made me cry, brought tears to my eyes.”

Residents were paired up with police recruits, making sure they got all the trimmings for their holiday meal.

It was a lesson in community policing for cadets who will soon be protecting and serving these residents.

The police recruits will be graduating on Dec. 16. They’ve already made a connection with a community that’s been through so much.

But on Thursday, everyone enjoyed a moment of peace just before Thanksgiving.