The Dunn and Erwin Police Departments, along with the Gospel Tabernacle Church in Dunn, joined forces Tuesday afternoon to bring a little comfort to more than three dozen families in the area for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Gospel Tabernacle wanted to partner with our police departments and help families that would not necessarily have a Thanksgiving,” Senior Pastor Randy Hill said. “We’ve had people give financially, we’ve had some businesses donate certain items. We had one ministry donate four boxes complete.”
A total of 39 boxes containing a turkey and all of the trimmings to feed an average of 10 people in each household were delivered to the doors of families in need.
Hill said over $1,500 was raised to support the efforts – efforts aimed at not just making sure folks were able to enjoy the holiday.
“This is an opportunity for us to reach out and help people in need first of all,” Dunn Police Chief Clark White said. “And it’s a positive interaction between law enforcement, faith-based institutions within the (two) cities and groups of people who care about making a difference of what goes on here in the lives of people.”
On the outside, it may seem like a charitable act with only the families receiving the major benefits. While that’s true, something is gained on both sides of the effort. The police officers, who loaded up the boxes on a chilly fall afternoon, got even more from their labors of love.
“Just helping the community is what it’s all about especially here at the holidays — Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Erwin Elementary School Resource Offer Lindy Macon said. “There’s a lot of these families I know personally because of being the SRO. I know their needs and lack of, so it really makes me feel good to know that I represent a department that is involved in something like this.”
That knowledge of SRO’s like Macon were also instrumental in gathering the names of the families in need, according to White. Combining their knowledge along with the Dunn Community Enhancement Team and the officers on the street to find those in need provided the needed link.
“They know their needs,” White said. “They see the people who are struggling to get by and need help. They know the people who need everything from spiritual help to food on the table to feed their family.”
White emphasizes the benefits gained by both departments is a crucial part of making sure the community realizes the police officers they see everyday on the streets are truly there for their benefit and protection.
“It’s all about community policing, community enhancement,” White said. “Anything we can do to improve the situation with our community to do that, and this is a great opportunity.”
Hill added the involvement of the church goes even deeper and gives the pastors who joined the police officers a chance to offer a little comfort to the families.
“Every pastor makes sure we pray with the families before we leave,” he said. “We ask them if there’s any specific needs. So we try to take care of the natural and the spiritual together.”
Macon’s close relationship with some the community members, who benefit from Tuesday’s deliveries, offer her and her colleagues the opportunity to see firsthand how they have been a positive influence on the families.
“It’s hard,” she said. “I know most of these families personally that, not by their choosing, are some that are really in need. It just makes my heart feel good that we’re able to do this. Especially partnering with Gospel Tabernacle and the Dunn Police Department.”
Rick Curl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 910-230-2038.