Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – For the past three months the Fort Wayne Fraternal Order of Police have been working with children at the Fort Wayne Boys and Girls Club in the Blue Bucket Brigade. The program encourages officers to spend time with kids at the club so children can get to know the people behind the badges and feel comfortable around them.
Fort Wayne Police Deputy Chief Garry Hamilton serves on the board of the Fort Wayne Boys and Girls Club. He said the club approached him about the idea. “Stuff like this is wonderful,” said Hamilton. “The Blue Bucket Brigade started a few months ago. The club reached out to me about doing something. This is part of community relations and giving back to the community.”
Twice already this year the Blue Bucket Brigade has set up outside Fort Wayne area Walmart stores to help raise money for Boys and Girls Club activities. “We do have officers, fraternal order of police members standing with the kids outside of Walmart,” said Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed. “The kids will ask for donations.”
The donations help sustain educational and team building programs and help kids at the club bridge the gap with law enforcement. “It’s connecting our most trusted servants with our most vulnerable youth,” said Sgt. Mitch McKinney with the Fraternal Order of Police. “It’s making sure they see me not by the uniform. That they see us for who we are. We are moms, dads, aunts and uncles.”
“A lot of the interaction that they had prior to the Blue Bucket Brigade was a negative interaction, maybe seeing something happen to an adult they know,” said Joe Jordan, CEO of the Fort Wayne Boys and Girls Club. “Now they’re seeing beyond the uniform. We’ve been getting national attention for this program as others try to figure out how to do it in other communities. Fort Wayne could be the first Blue Bucket Brigade program that goes national that’s how big this thing is.”
The Blue Bucket Brigade will be at all Fort Wayne area Walmart stores Friday, August 18th from 3:30 until 5:30 p.m. For more information on the program check out the Fort Wayne Boys and Girls Club and Fort Wayne Police Department websites.