2014 Toy Drive was a great success.
In November, TRPD Communications Coordinator Lisa Lark enthusiastically accepted Captain Gardner's charge to coordinate and take oversight of the toy drive. Thought this was her first time in this position, she received thorough coaching from Luann East, who had graciously continued to oversee the program in the years since she transferred from her position with the Police Department to one with City Hall. Lisa hit the ground running with several ideas of her own and did an outstanding job building a coalition of community support and communicating her vision to others. She looks forward to continuing with this responsibility and has already started planning for next year.
The most notable addition to the toy drive this year was the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail Polar Express. Created by Lisa and her father, David Thomas, this event saw the Swamp Rabbit railroad resurrected for our own version of the Polar Express, which raised approximately $4000 in toy donations over its four nights in operation. Originally intended to run for only one night, when all available seats filled almost immediately Lisa and Mr. Thomas offered to extend it to a second night, then a third, and then a fourth! The Whistle Stop Cafe (owner Vickie Hawkins) provided the perfect venue for the Polar Express station, along with Santa Claus and over 100 gallons of hot chocolate for around 500 train passengers! David and Barbara Thomas, owners/operators of the "D&B Express", selflessly donated their miniature train and their time to provide this exciting trip along Main Street, Travelers Rest. Loftis Printing provided authentic boarding passes, which were officially punched by a GHS Swamp Rabbit Polar Express conductor. Each child was even able to keep the commemorative ticket as a keepsake of his or her ride. Members of the TRHS student body performed at a Christmas tree on Main street for the first two events. At one event or another, every TRPD officer was on-hand (along with other TRPD employees) to assist with traffic control, crowd assistance, etc., all to showcase a well-coordinated Travelers Rest.
We saw a record number of donations in cash, toys, and various support materials this year. Over all we received almost $20,000 in cash and toy donations, which ultimately allowed our city to bless 148 children from 48 families in the Travelers Rest area. Each child received at least fifteen gifts, or a bicycle and five smaller gifts (35 bicycles were given out in all), or approximately $50.00 worth of gifts for the 17 teens. Travelers Rest Student Body/Student Council members, under the leadership of Student Body President Cole Patterson, raised $10,500 and went on an early morning shopping spree last week to provide the bulk of the gifts given. Private donations from community members and businesses in Travelers Rest raised approximately $5000, and the GHS Swamp Rabbit Polar Express brought in its approximately $4000 in toys.
While it's difficult to thank each and every person here who contributed to the success of the toy drive, several individuals and businesses in our area generously donated toys, money, and/or other necessities. Firefighters, police officers, and other city employees and/or their family members pitched in with numerous tasks such as shopping, transporting and sorting toys, loading bags of toys into recipients' cars, or simply taking note of a needs and being willing to fill them. Captain Gardner even made three direct-to-door deliveries for families who could not come to pick up their toys for themselves. Travelers Rest's generous spirit was on full display yet again this year and we look forward to an even better year next year.
TRPD names employees of the year for 2014.
At the City's Christmas party, the TRPD presented its annual "officer/civilian team member of the year" awards to Corporal Mason Johnson and Communications Specialist James Paris, respectively. Since 2006, the police department members have nominated their fellow employees for these prestigious awards, and the winners' plaques are displayed in the lobby of City Hall for the following year.
Please join us in congratulating the winners of these well-deserved awards as you read a few of the comments submitted by their co-workers.
"...one of the most honest and dependable officers I have met in my career...[showed] courage in the unfortunate vehicle accident that he had to face this year...has proven to be calm and collected under pressure...[shows] true compassion for people...full of answers...a man that's willing to learn...he's diligent and hardworking...He knows how to correct you without making you feel like a failure...He's loyal and dedicated to his job and friends...honest...He's a great choice to turn to if you need advice on life or on the job...he'll never lead you wrong...continues to try and better his abilities in the area of his Corporal position...very much a team player and willing to help out whenever he can...His rescue of the victim in the traffic accident on his shift shows his character and willingness to go above and beyond for the department and the community that he serves...keeps a level head when things get hectic...He’s steady, reliable, and knows what he’s doing. Not afraid to get his hands dirty...He's a great man."
"...goes above and beyond in dispatch duties...Searches and comes up with solutions to challenges in Dispatch...friendly to all peers as well as customers...always giving suggestions as to new ideas for the betterment of the department...always here and has never called in sick...comes in when we are shorthanded...Never says no...does whatever is asked of him without complaining...very intelligent and helpful to investigations for officers...James’ ability to diagnose and remedy problems with equipment is also a huge asset...willing to help officers get the information they need in a timely manner...very courteous and willing to go the extra mile to help anyone in need, civilian or law enforcement...has done several things recently that was not even dispatch related such as..finding several possible suspects for me..None of these were required for him to do but things that he did on top of his regular duties to help both the officers and the department...goes out of his way to help...He is friendly to all and has a very humble attitude...calm and level headed...a problem solver with any challenge that is presented to him."