This year has been challenging, and this week has been particularly hard for several reasons, so we thought it might be a good time to remember some of the good things we've been able to accomplish. We've had the privilege of working very closely with Columbus Division of Police for nearly two years now. We consider them to be the finest major metropolitan police force in the country, and we are constantly amazed by their professionalism and the depth of their compassion for their community.
We started this charity from nothing on July 20, 2018. To our knowledge, it's the only charity of its kind in existence. We had no idea if the concept (partner with cops to help the community) would work, but CPD had no hesitation and embraced us with open arms.
Together we have directly affected the lives of 4,974 people through our Assignments. Those Assignments could be something seemingly small like giving sporting equipment to kids or providing
Christmas presents to children who might not otherwise have them, but those types of things matter a great deal. Here are a few Assignments you might want to read about (we've limited ourselves to five):
1. A new car and an apartment for a homeless mom and her sweet daughter. Plus, car insurance, an apartment full of furniture, AND help moving in--ALL providing by CPD officers.
2. On the day after Thanksgiving, Officers Dan Snyder and Jesse Perkins replaced the brakes on single dad Tom's car so he'd have transportation to get to work on Monday. It saved his job, and he claims, saved his family.
3. Cops & Barbers 2019. A white cop and a black barber who turned his life around become good friends, then join forces to help kids--over 1,000 of them. Haircuts, school supplies, and a really great time.
4. Provide coats for kids. Officers have been very vocal about getting coats for kids (it was one of the first things they asked us for, even in summer 2018 when we were established!). In Winter 2018, we relied on donations of used coats, but in Winter 2019, we joined forces with AEP Ohio to provide hundreds of brand-new coats to kids in three phases. Here's just one of the stories.
5. Officers Kyle Cull and Aaron McDonald asked for help with a family in their patrol area. It started with a bike for the youngest child's birthday, but ended up a bit bigger, with the mom saying, "Thank you Ofc Cull and Ofc McDonald and the rest of the team for blessing my Family....Ofc Cull and Ofc McDonald are great Role models and I thank them both for taking the time out there day and stopped by. When my boys see cop cars they think it’s them and they smile every time they come."
Through our Books & Badges program, which we started on December 19, 2019, CPD officers went into schools and read 1,996 books to children (and each of those kids got to keep a copy of the book the officer read). March 13 was the last day we were able to read in schools--we had another 608 students scheduled before COVID-19 shut us down--but that was fine because we worked with CPD to come up with another solution.
What a solution it was: let's take Books & Badges online! Again, CPD embraced the concept. We've had 18 officers read since Books & Badges first aired on the CPD Facebook page on March 23, and those videos have been seen roughly 228,000 times.
The things that most stand out to us as we reminisce about these events are: 1) we've never encountered any resistance from the Division about working with us. They've always wanted to partner with Starfish to do good things in the community, and 2) they were doing good things long before we came along. We are not minimizing our contribution, and we know we are valued by the officers because they tell us all the time. But they were definitely doing great things before we came along.
We're honored that we're able to assist them doing in that work.