A night of bingo is planned Friday as part of ongoing efforts by Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department to help make the community safer.
The organization has generated $10,011 through various campaigns since being formed last year. Its purpose is to meet equipment and other needs of the police department which are not provided through normal budgetary channels.
So far, among other benefits, Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department has supplied a tactical entry vest, a sophisticated piece of protective gear that cost $2,400. The vest can play a vital role in drug investigations, the delivery of search warrants, vehicle stops involving armed suspects and other high-risk situations.
Next on the list is working to supply a Kubota off-road vehicle that would enable police to patrol the city’s two greenways. Smaller than a car, it is aimed at providing a law enforcement presence in remote areas of the trails as well as equipment to extricate and stabilize someone who might be injured on a greenway.
Another need to be addressed by the group is portable surveillance equipment to help officers investigate drug activities, according to Melanie Jones, its secretary.
The next major fundraising event of Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department will be held at Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street, where bingo games are scheduled to get under way at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the VFW Building. Doors will open at 5:30.
Prizes will include a Blue-ray DVD player, Sabika and Kameleon jewelry, a Halloween wreath, a round of golf at Cross Creek Country Club including cart rental and others. Door prizes are to be given as well, with food including hot dogs, pizza, baked goods and more to be offered.
Also during the gathering, a granite bathroom vanity top with an undermount sink and backsplash donated by Acme Stone — for which tickets are now being sold — will be raffled.
Friday’s event is coming on the heels of another successful bingo fundraiser at the same location in March. “It was almost full,” Jones said of the VFW Building.
All proceeds from Friday’s activities will benefit the police department.
Off To Good Start
Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department, which was organized in 2011, now has about 60 to 70 members. They include local residents who participated in the annual Citizens Police Academy, which is the case with Jones. The program allows the community a behind-the-scenes look at law enforcement operations.
It also alerted participants to some of the unmet needs faced by the department in today’s austere budget climate.
“Once I finished the academy, it was so obvious to me that they couldn’t do it by themselves,” Jones said of obtaining certain equipment and other items. The new group gained non-profit status last October to facilitate its various efforts.
In addition to the bingo fundraisers and present raffle, Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department also held a jewelry raffle and mounted other campaigns to aid the cause. One occurred during the Autumn Leaves Festival last weekend when members collected money for parking spaces at a lot on Willow Street, which owner Jim Crossingham offered for that purpose.
Another ongoing fundraising effort involves selling teddy bears bearing the Mount Airy Police Department emblem, which cost $20 each. They were provided by Bank of America.
Along with marketing the teddy bears as souvenirs or Christmas gifts, the new group has supplied them to officers to give to children involved in traffic accidents and other situations where they come into contact with police. “There’s two in every patrol car,” Jones said.
T-shirts bearing the Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department inscription also are being sold for $12 and $14.
Meanwhile, the organization has provided a banner outside the police station alerting passersby to the ongoing Operation Medicine Drop location there. It is a repository for unwanted prescription medications.
In addition to fundraising activities by its members, the public has recognized the merits of Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department’s mission and rallied to help.
“We’ve had a lot of donations from the community,” Jones said. “The community’s really accepted it, (and) been very supportive.”
The group is still accepting members, who can join at a cost of $25. Monthly updates are provided to the membership of its activities. Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department is always in need of volunteers, Jones added.
Those interested in memberships, purchasing teddy bears or T-shirts or otherwise assisting its mission can contact the organization by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 352-3558.
Tickets for Friday’s raffle can be purchased through those methods or from officers of the organization including Jones, Cathy Stevens, Gray Parker, David Beal and Roger McCreary.
“We just stand ready to help whenever we can,” Jones said of the organization’s continuing plans. “We’re excited about 2013.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.