TOMS RIVER – The term “To protect and to serve” took on another meaning when police officers served members of the public their dinner for a vest-a-cop fundraiser.
The event, going on its 29th year, was held at the Pizza Hut on Route 37, and in the parking lot outside. There was a bounce house, emergency vehicles for kids to explore, a dunk tank and more.
Occasionally, you could hear a name being called through a megaphone the same way a hostess would call “Johnson, party of 5.” Inside the restaurant, every table was full and so was the waiting area. Police officers took orders and brought out the food. Sometimes the officers would take a short break to sit with their families. Even if the customers weren’t sitting down to eat, there was a good deal of people getting their food to go. At the register, there were two large jars for people to drop money in for the fundraising effort. Some people even gave checks.
A vest costs about $1,200 to $1,400 each, said Patrolman William Resetar, who was overseeing the event. They have a lifespan of five years before they need to be replaced. For 160 officers, this can be a significant cost.
The goal is to hit $20,000. The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation pledged to match whatever was raised, up to $20,000.
About a third of the police force was in attendance, Resetar estimated. Besides serving food, they were running games, selling items at their booth, and taking turns in the dunk tank.
He said he expected to see about a thousand people throughout the course of the evening.
Grace and Wayne Worley of Toms River came out for the festivities. They were going to bring their two custom Corvettes for the car show, but with the gray skies they thought better of having two convertibles there. It could be that other people thought the same, since there were only a handful of cars at the car show portion.
Still, it was a good event to come out to, with a good cause to support, even if you’re not driving a custom Corvette. “The cops do a lot for kids here,” Grace Worley said. “We love it.”