Last year, in an effort to help at-risk kids in our city, officers of the Hammond Police Department decided to start a charity drive. It was simple enough; volunteer officers would stand at major intersections in uniform and collect donations from the community. The response was overwhelming, both in the generosity shown and the communication between the community and the police.
The drive was positive, reminding us that most people do respect us, and it warmed our heats as we were encouraged with good words as the donations poured in. The donations went to the East Side Community Council in Hammond. This organization mentors and helps at-risk teens reach personal and professional goals to give them a successful future.
In their second year, Captain Jeff Long and Assistant Chief Andy Short gathered up another group of volunteers and hit the streets. We were using buckets to collect donations but coined the phrase "Pass the Hat", comparing it to the fireman's boot drive, as police offers wear hats.
This year we collected over $38,000 in four days, well exceeding donations from 2015. The donations were presented to several Hammond organizations that have a direct impact on at-risk persons within our community. Benefiting from the foundations is the ESCC, The Haven House, and the Hammond Fraternal Order of Police.
The Haven House gives sanctuary to victims of domestic abuse and has long been a partner of the Hammond Police Department.
The Hammond FOP has a food drive each year and provides meals over the holiday to families that would otherwise do without. The FOP will be providing meals for 85 families.
I want to thank the community for being so generous and making these donations possible. I would also like to thank all the officers who volunteered their time to this noble endeavor. It is this type of cooperation and outreach that bridges the gap between police officer and the communities we serve.
Again, I cannot express enough how the kind words the officers received truly reminds us that we are supported and respected by the vast majority of the public we serve. We will continue to work hard in every area to win over more of that small percentage we have not connected with yet.
For more information, please contact John Doughty at 219-852-6326.