As a battle-worn law enforcement community, at least nationally, continues to feel the fatigue of interceding for society, several local efforts aimed at supporting the law officers have taken shape.
Jeff Gause, founder and financier of Bladen Christian Outdoorsmen, is selling or donating silicone wristbands with “Brothers of the Badge” or “John 15:13” printed on them.
“I just had an idea about three or four weeks ago about doing something for law enforcement,” Gause said. “I found out I could do these wristbands, spent a couple of days thinking about what I could put on them, and came up with a couple of ideas.”
Gause paid out-of-pocket for and ordered 200 bands, which he immediately began distributing to Bladen County’s law enforcement officers. The response was huge.
“Things started blowing up,” said Gause. “As soon as I started passing them out, I saw how much people liked them, and turned right back around and ordered 65 more.”
People liked them so much, in fact, that they started offering him donations, and in just one day he had not only given out all 200 that he had ordered, but also received enough donations to order 500 more. An additional day brought with it enough donations for another 500.
Gause has received requests from Shelby, New Hanover County, and even from out of state. The requests are coming from people who want to donate them to their own law enforcement officers or just wear them themselves. Gause reported that he is expecting 800 more, and, as soon as the shipment arrives, almost all of them are already accounted for.
Since he would like to donate the bands to law enforcement, he is asking that residents pay $2 apiece, which would cover the cost of one plus allow three others to be given out. Donations are also being accepted to cover the cost of shipping.
“I’m not making any money off of this, and I don’t want to make any money,” said Gause.
All Bladen County law enforcement officers have been given bands, and Gause is currently working on Robeson County — which, he reported, has 495 officers — and Columbus County.
To donate or to order bands, Gause can be contacted via private message on his own Facebook page or on the page of Bladen Christian Outdoorsmen.
Police wives helping
Several Bladen County law enforcement wives implemented an Adopt-A-Cop program, which began July 22. The program asked residents to adopt an officer, send them a note of appreciation, and purchase a gift, which would be delivered by the coordinators.
The response was, according to the organizers, overwhelming.
“Within about five or six hours (of a Facebook post describing the project), all 100 officers in Bladen County had been adopted,” said Melinda Shaw, wife of Cpl. Bull Shaw with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s been amazing.”
Melonie Davis, whose husband, Jay, works with the White Lake Police Department and who herself is spearheading the effort, reported that, within a few days, 250 adoptions had been pledged, enough to sponsor each officer in Bladen County twice and extend the effort to park rangers and wildlife officers.
“I even called the lady in Concord (which is where Davis got the idea, after seeing the program there) and asked her if we should keep going, and she said yes,” said Davis.
Due to the overwhelming response, Davis said they have changed the original plans for the dissemination of gifts. Instead of the gifts being collected and given out by the organizers, they are planning a reception Friday and are asking each agency to send at least one representative to collect the gifts. They are also encouraging officers off duty that day to attend, as well as any residents who adopted the officers. The reception will be held at 2 p.m. at the Emergency Services Building in the Industrial Park.
Other efforts of support
— First Assembly of God in Bladenboro is selling vehicle stickers for law enforcement and the public. The white stickers have a shaded replica of North Carolina, a blue line through the center and the words “We stand with you” printed above. Stickers are $10 and are available on the church’s website at www.firstassemblyofgodbladenboro.com. Proceeds will be used to assist law enforcement.
— Rylee Lou’Ann White, the current Dublin Peanut Festival Tiny Miss, recently went to every law enforcement facility in Bladen County to deliver Houston’s peanuts, bottled water and heartfelt appreciation for their service. Even K-9 Jaxx received Milkbones.
— Officer Appreciation Day has been held at several churches, and area police departments and the Sheriff’s Office have been the recipients of numerous kind gestures — such as goodie bags, baked treats, and flower arrangements — by individuals.
“There’s been overwhelming support,” said Shaw. “Officers will go into a restaurant and people will pay for their meal and write ‘We appreciate you’ or ‘Thank you for what you do.’ People walk up to them and offer to pray for them — it’s just all these random acts of kindness.”
The Davises, Shaw and Gause all reported that the outpouring of support is coming from people of all races.
Brooke McMichael, wife of Elizabethtown Police Lt. Mark McMichael, affirmed the same, saying, “With all the hate and violence going on with police officers, I have seen the most love lately. I even notice different races coming together and being nicer to each other than ever, almost as if to make sure the others feel their love.”
“I know that we’re loved in this community,” said Jay Davis, “but I didn’t know we were loved this much.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.