School is back in session and that means Sheriff Deputy and Community Officer Paul McCord is heading back to the classroom.
McCord leads the William County Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, teaching fifth grade students the importance of being responsible good citizens.
A program funded by a state grant and community donations, this year D.A.R.E. is getting some additional help.
A local church has made it their mission to reach out to the community in support of the program, which they feel is essential to Williams County students.
Bryan First Brethren Church, 13050 County Road C, Bryan, has initiated Friends of D.A.R.E., a community resource to help raise funds for the program through a chili supper an auction on October 3 at Bryan Middle School.
The church is working with McCord and Williams County Sheriff Steve Towns to organize the event and are looking to the surrounding communities to help.
“The Mission of D.A.R.E. is to give students better tools so that they can make good decisions in life,” McCord said. “(The church) is community helping D.A.R.E., and the program is all about building community. We are rural, small towns and the more people the students know the more they can connect.”
McCord takes pride in the fact that no child is turned away from a D.A.R.E. sponsored event due to their lack of financial contribution. In July, the program hosted more than 200 students at their first annual D.A.R.E. summer camp. Of those children, approximately 25 received scholarships for their camp fees. Another D.A.R.E. sponsored event is a winter lock-in, or five-hour fun day at the Williams County YMCA, again no child was turned away, McCord says.
In addition to events and camps for the students, McCord said he also purchases materials for use in the classroom.
“We have to buy materials for students,” he said. “We will purchase more than 600 pamphlets regarding the dangers of over-the-counter medications and 600 teaching booklets.
“We also buy starters for school supplies with the D.A.R.E. logo and lots of shirts. Shirts alone can cost more than $6,000.”
McCord says he tries to keep all of the spending for the program local, which is why the event hosted by Friends of D.A.R.E. will be helpful.
“The D.A.R.E. program has been a victim of budget cuts in the past within Williams County,” said Angi Walkup, Friends of D.A.R.E. committee member. “We hate to see that happen further in the future.” The D.A.R.E. program relies on community support. Bryan First Brethren Church would like to help assist where we can and have decided to support Williams County Deputy Sheriff Paul McCord and the D.A.R.E. program to help raise funds for this much needed program.”
Friends of D.A.R.E. is seeking donations and services offered from local business and organizations to be able to auction off the evening of the chili supper. Walkup says any monetary donations will be used to either purchase items to auction, or used to purchase the food items for the dinner.
“Either way, donations are greatly appreciated,” she said.
McCord says he is grateful for the church’s help in spearheading the fundraiser.
“The grant we have is suppose to pay for up to half of my salary working with D.A.R.E.,” he said. “I show every hour that I work and in the end the grant won’t cover even half.”
It is for this reason private donations and events such as the chili supper and auction are important.
“We just try and break even and cover our expenses,” McCord said. “D.A.R.E. is too important to be obsolete.
“I tell kids I will always be their D.A.R.E. officer. I want them to have a safe connection with me and other law enforcement officers. Social media has painted such and unfortunate picture of law enforcement, but in the end you need to ask yourself, if your child were lost, would you rather them seek out a complete stranger, or a police officer for help? What we do is important and we want to keep doing it.”
For more information on the fundraiser, or to donate to the event, contact Walkup at email@example.com, or 419-551-9388. Questions and donations can also be directed to Bryan First Brethren Church at 419-636-4713. All contributions are tax deductible.