By Shawn Price
More than $1,500 was raised by the Garden Grove Police Department at a special Tip-a-Cop charity fundraiser for the Special Olympics at Joe’s Crab Shack in Garden Grove on Wednesday, Dec. 14.
A group of 10 officers volunteered their time to help serve and chat with customers and even dance along with staff. Some family and friends attended the event along with a few retired officers, but most restaurant goers arrived unaware of the event.
A total of $1,514 was raised, exceeding expectations for the event. Donations even included 10 Australian dollars left by tourists.
Shortly after October’s annual Tip-a-Cop event at the Red Robin restaurant next door, Joe’s asked to host an event of their own and GGPD Special Olympic liaisons Nick Jensen and Mark Lord were quick to oblige.
“It gives people a chance to see we’re regular people, too,” says Lord, a 22-year veteran who has been a department liaison for 15 years. “It gives us a chance to bond.”
Lord says he has attended Special Olympics games, and seeing how happy the games make the athletes is the reason he loves doing the Tip-a-Cop fundraisers.
Jensen, who’s been a liaison almost as long as Lord, said events like this are part of why he became a police officer.
“It’s about giving back to the community,” Jensen says. “That’s the nice thing about this. It’s not law enforcement related.”
Adds Jensen: “Just because we’re wearing badges doesn’t mean we won’t be dancing with servers.”
Special Olympics volunteer Jennifer Purcell loves being part of the fundraisers as well.
“I think it’s great for the community to see us working together,” she says. “A lot of officers become a little shy working with the athletes. But they work together well, so it helps some officers come out of their shell.”
Joe’s manager Dan Williams says the reasons he sought out the event were personal.
He attended a previous Tip-a-Cop event a few years ago and has friends who are autistic. He’s enthusiastic about hosting future events.
Williams also says the event “humanizes police officers and it shows they are part of the community.”
He jokes: “I should have no guest complaints about service.”
Oggi’s restaurant, next to Joe’s and Red Robin, also has inquired about hosting an event, and Lord and Jensen now hope to organize events at all three restaurants next year.
For more on Orange County law enforcement, go to http://www.behindthebadgeoc.com .
Categories: Garden Grove