Tis the season of giving and over the last week, two charity check stops, one in Lacombe to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters and one in Blackfalds to benefit victim services, were held to encourage members of those communities to spread the good cheer.
Lacombe Police Chief Steve Murray said that supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters allows Lacombe’s members to act on the service’s motto, which is ‘community partnership.’
“This is our motto at its most basic level,” said Murray. “We encourage our members to interact with youth, to take any mentorship opportunities to talk with youth, to try and start building some relationships.”
Murray added this promotes healthy relationships between police and youth and lets young people know they can go to police when they need help.
Blackfalds RCMP Detachment Commander Ken Morrison said that such check stops also provide members a chance to simply meet members of the community in a positive light, something both he and Murray said happens far too seldom.
“It’s a great opportunity for our members to just meet the public and not have a negative interaction, it’s a positive interaction.”
Morrison also said that supporting victim services is important as the organization provides a service that enables police to do their jobs better.
He said the two groups, police and victim services work together to best serve the community with victims services taking care of the victims of crime leaving the police free to deal with the perpetrators.
Both Morrison and Murray added that doing charity check stops also helps both with having a police presence during the holidays.
Crystal Zens, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, said that they broke a record for their annual charity check stop this year by raising $6,000.
“This was a great turnout from the community,” said Zens. She added that a few changes to the program such as changing the location of the check stop from Hwy. 2A to Hwy. 12 and increasing the number of volunteers helped increase the amount of funds raised.
Money raised from the charity check stop will go towards the annual Kids n’ Cops camp that Big Brothers Big Sisters puts on each year in partnership with local law enforcement agencies.
Zens said the camp usually costs $4,500 to run and any extra funds will go towards purchasing equipment on the wish list for the camps or camp subsidies that allow less financially fortunate children to take part in the camp as well.
Being able to partner with Lacombe Police Services is a fantastic opportunity for Big Brothers Big Sisters, said Zens.
She added it provides great role-model opportunities for the kids and shows them what they could accomplish if they follow those examples.
In Blackfalds, $5,070 was raised to benefit victim services. Karie Ackerman, assistant coordinator for Blackfalds and District Victim Services, said the community of Blackfalds really stepped up to show support during the check stop.
“That was amazing for two hours,” said Ackerman. “Blackfalds residents really came out and supported us.”
She added that some drivers who did not know about the charity check stop and didn’t have anything to give went through the stop and then returned later with money to donate.
Ackerman said that to her, fundraising and awareness go hand in hand.
To accomplish that goal, those who went through the stop were also given a package with information about drinking and driving that detail what the fines and other consequences are that one can face if they decide to drink and drive.
“We know that drinking and driving increases during the holiday season,” said Ackerman. She added she hopes this proactive measure will encourage drivers to exercise a little more caution if they choose to drink this holiday season.
Santa was also on hand at both check stops handing out goodies and encouraging drivers to give generously.