POSTED: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 8:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 12:50pm
WALKER, LA — On Friday, July 26, for the ninth consecutive year, the Walker Police Department will distribute school uniforms to Livingston Parish families who need assistance outfitting their children with mandatory school uniforms.
The “From Our Uniform to Yours” school uniform drive concluded Friday, July 19, with the pick-up of uniform collection barrels from locations around the City of Walker. Donated uniforms are now being dry cleaned by Quick & Handy Cleaners, following which they will be sized and sorted in time for distribution on July 26.
“We are very pleased to be able to conduct the school uniform program again this year,” Captain John Sharp, Walker Police Public Information Officer said of the uniform collection effort that began in May. “We are fortunate to be part of a community that understands the importance of helping one another through difficult times, and we plan to continue with the program as long as there is a need in our Parish.”
Beginning shortly after the end of each school year, the Walker Police Department collects school uniforms that Livingston Parish school children have outgrown or no longer need. The uniforms are then distributed to families who might otherwise struggle to provide suitable uniforms for their children. In addition to school uniforms, cash, checks and gift card donations are also accepted.
“We all know that children come in a variety of sizes, and since the program includes all school children,K – 12th grade, one problem we face each year is having the sizes we need and enough of the more common sizes to address as much of the need as possible,” Captain Sharp explained. “When we are fortunate enough to obtain monetary donations and gift cards, we are able to purchase uniform sizes we need but didn’t receive through donations, allowing us to fill in the gaps and hopefully avoid the possibility of not having a size that someone needs.”
Walker Police uses its Facebook page and social media resources to inform the public of the uniform program and the opportunity to donate school uniforms. Although most of the Department’s Facebook followers are located in Livingston Parish, the broad reach of social media has produced some interesting results.
“At the start of last year’s uniform drive, a Facebook user in Australia who follows us on Facebook contacted us,” Captain Sharp recalled. “She told us she wanted to help, and asked whether she could make a donation to the uniform drive. We made the necessary arrangements and within a couple of days we received a wire transfer of funds. It was incredible!”
When Sharp told Walker Police Department employees and program participants about the donation from Australian, they were skeptical.
“They thought I was making it up,” said Sharp. “Nobody could believe that our message had reached halfway around the world, and that someone so far away would care enough about school children in Livingston Parish to make a donation. I had to show them the Moneygram before they were convinced.”
The Australian donor, who wants to remain anonymous, is involved in law enforcement in Sydney, Australia and continues to correspond with the Police Department through Facebook, so this year, Sharp wasn’t overly surprised when the Facebook Friend from Down Under again made a donation to the school uniform drive.
“We both enjoyed the surprise that a donation from Australia brought last year, but she thought it was particularly funny that nobody believed me,” said Sharp. “This year, she sent her donation in Australian currency, which we learned could be deposited and converted to United States currency by local banks. As an added surprise, a friend of hers, who also follows us on Facebook, sent a donation. Now we have two anonymous benefactors from Australia.”
Walker Police plan to begin distribution of the uniforms Friday morning at the Walker Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.
“The doors will open at 10:00 a.m. and we will give out uniforms until they are all gone,” said Cindy McMorris, Walker Police Administrative Assistant and one of the program’s organizers. “We will also have free donuts, pizza, cold drinks, and the names of everyone who attends will be entered in a drawing for a boy’s bicycle and a girl’s bicycle. We want everyone to have a good time and a fun day!”
Walker Police will continue to accept uniform donations this week at the Police Department, located at 13179 Burgess Road in Walker, and will accept monetary donations for the program through the end of July.
“We always have a few people who didn’t know about the uniform drive and who want to help,” Captain Sharp stated. “Whatever we receive after the uniforms are distributed on Friday will be put back into the program for next year. Each year, it seems that the need increases. We truly appreciate everyone who steps up and makes a donation so that this program is the success it needs to be.”
For more information on the “From Our Uniform to Yours” school uniform program, contact Walker Police at (225) 664-3125 or visit the Walker Police Department Facebook page at www.facebook.com/walker.police