By Corey Ohlenkamp—
Muncie, IN – Saturday morning saw dozens of volunteers, primarily police officers, pair up with around 100 children to gather needed supplies for the first day of school inside Muncie’s Target.
The annual back-to-school event, hosted by Muncie Crime Stoppers, provided $100 for each child to help with the ever-growing list of school supplies needed to start off each academic year.
“I look forward to these events every year. We are able to interact with the kids, get what they need for school, and it leaves our officers feeling humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to serve,” said Muncie Police Chief Nathan Sloan.
Boxes of pencils? Check. Notebooks? Check. A backpack that stands out from the rest? Check.
One by one, officers helped kids find the odds and ends of each back to school list.
While each item marked off a shopping list might seem minor to some, the cost of those items can add up for families already struggling to make ends meet.
“People have seen the benefits of the program and how we help the kids get ready for school,” said Ray Dudley, chief of security with Muncie Community Schools. Dudley has been with the program since it was started in the mid-1990s.
“We find that we are never short on people in the community that want to help,” Dudley said.
This year marked the final event organized by retired Muncie Police Department Captain Chuck Hensley. Hensley started as a security officer for Muncie Community Schools in 1984, including 26 years at Northside Middle School and seven as chief of security.
In that time, he’s seen a definite need for community programs like the back-to-school event.
“I’ve been in the schools for years,” said Hensley. “One year, we had a kid come to school with his tennis shoes wrapped in duct tape. There is always a need for a program like this.”
Hensley has played a vital role in making sure the event takes shape every year.
The success of Saturday’s event came down to the series of partnerships that the organization has helped build. Muncie Crime Stoppers works with local police departments, who in-turn work with the schools and local businesses to make the event a success.
The City of Muncie would like to extend its gratitude for the generous monetary support from CenterPoint Energy and the Eagles Lodge #231, which also made the event possible.
Muncie Crime Stoppers will hold the annual Heroes and Helpers event for the Christmas season in December. That event sees even more families in need that can’t afford Christmas gifts for their children.
The organization is always looking for volunteers and sponsors to help with outreach programs. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact Muncie Police Department’s Deputy Chief Christopher Deegan at 765-747-4822.
About Muncie, Indiana
Incorporated in 1865, the City of Muncie is a welcoming and ambitions community. The municipality has a population of approximately 70,085 residents, and is located in the heart of East-Central Indiana. Muncie prides itself as being a central hub for commerce, recreation, and development. Home to quality education, technology driven development, and a friendly populous. Muncie is proud to be “The Capital of East-Central Indiana.”