Community Helps Protect Officers Through Vest-A-Cop Fundraiser

The 31st annual Vest-A-Cop fundraiser raised money for local officers to buy bullet proof vests. (Photo courtesy Alyssa Riccardi)

  TOMS RIVER – Once again, the Toms River Police Officers served up a night of fun at the 31st annual Vest-A-Cop fundraiser.

   For 31 consecutive years, the Toms River Police Department has teamed up with the Pizza Hut on Route 37 to serve the community some yummy pizza while raising money to support their officers with the bullet proof vest fund.

  This year, the event was held mostly outside in the parking lot while the Pizza Hut dining room was at 50 percent capacity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Officers took turns serving food to visitors, with the funds going towards bullet proof vests. Normally, officers have to pay out of pocket for their vests, costing around $1,200. The fundraiser allows the department to buy new vests since it’s mandatory to purchase new ones every five years.

  “We had a lot of pre-support this year. So, we had a lot of people who heard about the event and wanted to sponsor it or make a donation. So that was really nice,” police spokeswoman Jillian Messina said.

  Officer Will Resetar, who’s a part of the Toms River PBA 137, has been in charge of running the Vest-A-Cop event for the past couple years.

  “COVID is on its way out and everyone wants to get back to normal. Last year we held it entirely outdoors. This year it’s half inside, with limited capacity, and half outside as well. It’s a good feeling, this weather is perfect today,” Resetar said.

  Ted Hobbs, the Area Supervisor for Pizza Hut, said it’s always great to partner with the police department every year to help raise funds.

Enjoying the firetruck, brothers Austin, Landon and Logan attend Vest-A-Cop every year in support of a family member who’s a retired officer. (Photo courtesy Alyssa Riccardi)

  “I’ve been working with Will for the past month and you know we partner with the department to support the cause. A lot of planning goes into this event, but it’s worth it in the end,” Hobbs said.

  Despite the COVID-19 pandemic still developing throughout the community, many residents still make the effort to support their local police officers.   

  “The public has been fantastic. Our community, through this entire year, have been amazing. I have never seen people more supportive and friendly to each other,” Police Chief Mitch Little said. “Tonight is going to be just as good if not better than other years. We’re definitely feeling the support from the community.”

  Along with the police department, the local fire department and EMS were also at the event. Kids were allowed to check out the ambulance and inside the firetruck.

  Toms River resident Megan Daubert brought her sons Austin, Landon and Logan to the event in support of her brother who is a retired officer.

  “We come every year. My brother was a Toms River Police Officer who’s retired now. We come to support him and the fellow officers. My son Austin dreams of becoming a police officer,” Daubert said.

  Although the donations were not fully tallied up yet, Messina said the department always receives great support from everyone.

Officers took turns getting dunked in the dunk tank to raise funds for the event. (Photo courtesy Alyssa Riccardi)

  “We’ve just had so many sponsors this year. The people have just been so incredible. Despite COVID, I think the support is still strong. The community comes out and they know that we take precautions. People who are comfortable will come out, and people who are not still find other way to support us, and we’re grateful for both,” she said. “They know these officers have to buy their own vests. So, the community helps protect the officers who protect them. It’s the most beautiful collaboration. I say it every year but we really do have the best community.”