Despite the weekend heat, county residents turned out in droves to help support children who wonder where their next meal might come from.
The La Plata Police Department held its first “Stuff the Squad Car” event Saturday afternoon outside the Safeway grocery store. While Chief Carl Schinner said they’d hoped to secure enough donations to fill up two squad cars, the generous spirit of Charles County won out: They ultimately received eight carloads of food over the course of four hours.
“If we were to fill two in four hours that would’ve been a great event,” Schinner said. “That type of generosity is just incredible.”
Schinner said he was inspired to host this event following a recent trip he took to the police department in the town of Fishers, Ind., as part of his duties with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. While there, Schinner said, he learned about “Stuff the Squad Car,” which their agency conducts every year.
“I thought it was a great idea, so I brought it back here,” Schinner said. He connected with Sandy Washington, executive director of LifeStyles of Maryland, to find out whether there was a need for such an event in the community. When she confirmed there was, Schinner said, he and the rest of the officers at the department got to work.
One man who donated, Schinner said, told officers he’d seen posts about the event on social media and drove from his Indian Head home just to make a donation to kids in need. They had help from other community organizations like youth sports group Southern Maryland Gladiators, he added. While Schinner said he didn’t know exactly how many individuals donated, he said they handed out more than 500 flyers over the course of the event.
“No one should be hungry in this county,” Schinner said. “If LifesStyles has a need, we’ll try to assist them with this annually to make sure every kid can eat.”
The food donated that day went to a LifeStyle’s program that provides meals to kids in need while school is out for the summer. In a telephone interview Tuesday, Washington said the volunteer team was currently sorting through all the donations, and she expected that they’d be able to provide about 1,600 meals with everything they received.
Those meals, she said, will mostly be distributed to children in La Plata, although the group works with underserved populations throughout the county.
The event’s success, Washington said, was “incredible” and a huge help for some of those in the county who need it the most.
“When you think people don’t care, you look at things like this and know we have a very caring community,” Washington said. “They don’t want people to just have basic needs but to have a chance.”