Middle School student Katie Reynolds said she wanted to repay the kindness shown to her family by the Calhoun Police Department when she organized the fundraising effort to buy the department a McGruff the Crime Dog costume.
Members of the department, including former chief Gary Moss and chief secretary Sharon Jolly, headed up an effort to renovate her family’s home after her father, Mike Reynolds, was injured while serving in the Army.
“Paying them back was a my big, overall goal,” Katie said.
Katie and her dad took turns wearing the costume this week for campers at Jacket Jamboree, a summer camp at Calhoun Elementary School. The pair also organized multiple visitors from the various first responders in the area as part of Public Safety Week at the camp.
“I thought a Public Safety Week would have a much bigger impact and they would have more to take away from it,” Katie said, explaining that she had considered organizing an agriculture-themed week.
Part of her Future Farmers of America community service project, Katie and her dad brought in officers from the police department, troopers from the Georgia State Patrol, local paramedics, firefighters and others to talk to students about their jobs and show off their equipment.
GSP Trooper Cadet Seferino Chavez spoke to the students on Monday, telling them about his training, the importance of safety belts, and answering dozens of questions, including one about pulling over to the side of the road when you see emergency lights.
“It’s probably a good idea to go home and tell mom and dad, today I learned that you are supposed to pull over to the right side of the road, not the left, when you see blue lights, red lights or amber lights,” Chavez said.
Campers cheered when McGruff rolled up in a GSP vehicle with lights and sirens turned on. They lined up for high-fives and hugs and at one point asked McGruff to do “the floss,” a dance move made popular by the online video game “Fortnite.”
Mike Reynolds, who has worked locally as a paramedic since 1990, said Katie led the effort to buy the costume but that this was the first time she finally got to wear it.
“She was too little to wear it back then,” he said.
Frances Mullins, site manager for Jacket Jamboree, said she was grateful for the Reynolds for organizing the visitors for Public Safety Week. She said the presenters had done an awesome job and that campers had a blast.
“That was fun. They really enjoyed that,” Mullins said.