The multiple tables lined with bowls, pans and slow cookers filled with food looked like a large meal, but the church that provided a recent feast at the Rock Hill Police Department says it was just a small gesture – and the first of many.
Park Ridge Baptist Church in Rock Hill prepared a lunch for city officers that included fried chicken, an assortment of side dishes and a table filled with sweet treats.
The idea for the feast started with the church’s youth group members talking about the recent violence toward police officers, which included ambush-style attacks on officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., said the Rev. Mitchell Adkins, associate pastor at Park Ridge.
“We don’t need a generation growing up, learning to dislike cops,” Adkins said, “because they’re the ones running to the danger when we need help.”
The effort eventually spread church-wide. Adkins’ mother, Beverly Adkins, said the sanctuary erupted into a standing ovation when the plan was announced.
When she contacted Publix to get fried chicken for the lunch, she said, the supermarket chain decided to donate 20 gallons of iced tea and three cakes.
The Rock Hill Police Department was just the first stop for the church; they plan to provide a similar meal to every police agency in the area, with the York Police Department up next in early September.
“They have a hard job,” Beverly Adkins said. “They have families at home that are waiting for them to come home. They never know from one day to the next what is going to happen.”
The lunch was the latest display of gratitude for Rock Hill police officers, who have been inundated with donations of candy, baked goods, doughnuts and cards, Capt. Mark Bollinger said. Local businesses and organizations, like Park Ridge Baptist, are providing meals.
“The show of support has been outstanding,” he said. “We’ve actually had to start to schedule things because there has been such an outpouring of support from the community.”
The baked goods and sweet treats disappear quickly, and the thank-you cards are displayed in the break room and roll call room, Bollinger said, adding that the gestures “help us get up in the mornings and come to work.”
The York County Sheriff’s Office has tweeted pictures of the baked goods, cards and flowers sent by residents, and at the Tega Cay Police Department, someone left blue and gold balloons outside police headquarters.
“It’s been a true outpouring of support from our community letting us know how much they appreciate us,” Tega Cay Police Maj. David Nelson said. “It’s been remarkable.”
Nelson knows officers at the Dallas Police Department, which lost four officers in a July 7 sniper attack that left a fifth Dallas-area officer dead and several others injured.
“The law enforcement community extends past jurisdiction,” he said. “We all wear the badge, we all wear blue.
“When one goes down, we all feel the pain.”