Walker police distribute uniforms

The aptly named “From Our Uniforms to Yours,” the school uniform distribution program organized by Walker Police Department employees, drew a large crowd of parents, grandparents and guardians, with school-aged children in tow, to the Walker Baptist Church on Friday.

By the time the doors to the Fellowship Building on the church’s campus opened at 10 a.m., the line of residents seeking the school uniforms stretched for several blocks.

The program has been an annual event since its founding several years ago by then-police Chief Hunter Grimes.

Cindy McMorris, a clerk in the Police Department’s headquarters, said Friday’s distribution culminated a months-long effort to provide the clothing to families in need.

The department collects used uniforms, which are then cleaned by Quick & Handy Cleaners in Walker. Volunteers from the department then sort the uniforms by size and prepare them for distribution.

McMorris said members of the police force volunteer their time for the program. In addition to collecting the used uniforms, police personnel hold fundraisers during the year to raise cash to supplement the availability of school uniforms.

McMorris said the uniform giveaway is run strictly on the honor system.

“If a parent feels the need to come get uniforms, we are here to help them — no questions asked,” she said.

Walker Police Lt. Kenneth Black said every effort is made to create a fun atmosphere for the children.

Trixie the Clown stayed busy painting the faces of the young students. Her presence at the program was sponsored by AmeriGroup, a health insurance company.

“This is part of our community outreach effort,” said AmeriGroup’s Bradley Miller, who distributed free backpacks filled with school supplies.

Attendees also were offered doughnuts, pizza and soft drinks.

Youth minister Ray McCon said Walker Baptist Church likes “to volunteer our facilities and our services for good causes, and this is certainly a good cause.”

Cynthia Scott, who brought her two children and three other children of relatives to the program, said the program “helps us save money and gives us a chance to recycle uniforms that others can use. Every savings we can make helps out.”

Scott said that if parents have to purchase new uniforms from local suppliers the clothes can cost from $5 to $25 as opposed to getting them free through the Police Department program.

She said that last year her children began the school year with five sets of uniforms and that by school’s end they were down to two sets.

“Kids wear uniforms out fast,” she said.

Scott, who drives a school bus, said, “We really appreciate everything that the police do. They are fantastic. … We are so proud of our Police Department.”

Brown said, “Programs such as this are extremely important to our Police Department. This is one more opportunity to build positive relations with the people of our community.

“We want our citizens to know that we are here to help make Walker a better place for everyone.”

The department also sponsors a Night Out Against Crime, a Christmas program for teens, and the presentation of gift baskets to senior citizens.

“This is the fun part of our job,” Brown said.

“It’s a blessing to have something like this and to see so many people come out to participate.”