Lisa Taylor and Veronica Bennett of Hall County believe most people need to feel appreciated sometimes — even cops.
The two friends started an initiative called, #BagsForTheBlue, which aims to recognize local law enforcement for their contributions to the community.
On Tuesday, June 30, they dropped off 120 gift bags and hand sanitizer bottles to Gainesville Police Department’s staff.
Before that, on June 22, Taylor, Bennett and several of their children delivered 375 gift bags, 450 face masks and bottles of hand sanitizer to Hall County Sheriff’s Office, as well as a basket of goodies for administration.
The two plan to also deliver a smaller batch of goodies to Georgia State Patrol troops and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Taylor and Bennett said they were inspired to launch #BagsForTheBlue after hearing about the negative treatment of officers on a local and national level.
“I know that they’re feeling so disheartened and defeated and ganged up on, and I don’t think it’s right,” Taylor said. “There are issues we need to work on as a country as far as police reform, but that doesn’t mean that everyone (every police officer) is bad.”
Taylor said she originally wanted to deliver doughnuts to local law enforcement, but the act of kindness grew into something greater.
Two weeks after posting a message on Facebook about #BagsForTheBlue, Bennett said around $3,000 was raised.
The two women used the money to purchase food for gift bags to deliver to law enforcement in Hall County. Taylor said they asked officers about the sort of snacks they like to have on patrol and set off to Sam’s Club to fulfill their requests.
After purchasing large quantities of beef jerky, granola bars, chewing gum and other snacks, Taylor and Bennett said they had $750 left.
They decided to contribute $400 of the amount to the Gainesville Police Explorers program — which introduces young adults to the law enforcement field — and $400 toward Hall County Sheriff’s Office’s holiday bicycle program. The other $50 went to Blue Line Bears, which is a nonprofit that helps the children of fallen law enforcement.
Businesses, including McDonalds and Chick-fil-A, contributed to the initiative, as well as individuals in the community. Bennett said several children in Hall County wrote handwritten letters to law enforcement, which were placed in the gift bags.
“It’s just very kind,” Gainesville Police Officer Nick Smith said. “It’s a rough time for law enforcement officers elsewhere. We always know that we’re so supported here in Gainesville. We love our community.”
Officer Kelly Olson of Gainesville Police said he knows many people in Gainesville appreciate the efforts of local law enforcement but having a reminder is nice from time to time.
“With the atmosphere and the way the country is going right now, it’s good to see some positive things happen,” he said. “We have a good community that’s behind us.”
Those interested in contributing to the initiative are asked to join the Facebook group, #BagsForTheBlue.