As police officers across the nation continued to receive bad press, Tom Hughes, pastor of the Myrtle Beach, S.C., Church, felt a burden to give back to these men and women. When he began brainstorming, the Lord impressed him to purchase quality reusable water bottles for the police officers in the Myrtle Beach and Florence, S.C., areas.
When Hughes brought the idea for the police officer project to his church members, they were ecstatic and told him they could not wait to show the police officers their gratitude. Hughes then negotiated an agreement with Camelback to sell him insulated water bottles for nearly half the retail price, which included placing the church logo on the front and the words of Psalm 23:4 on the back. By including this text, Hughes hoped to remind the officers that no matter what hardships they face on the job, the Lord is watching out for them.
Hughes’ churches raised more than $22,000 to purchase water bottles for the police officers. After receiving the funds, Hughes contacted each of the county police departments and received permission to deliver the water bottles. With each delivery, words of gratitude and thanks inundated Hughes and his church members. The officers were so thankful to receive a practical gift, and to be reminded that they are appreciated. Unfortunately, two counties refused the water bottles for various reasons, although the individual officers continued to express interest. Therefore, Hughes and his team plan to hand-deliver water bottles to these officers rather than to distribute the bottles through the department.
Despite minor setbacks, Hughes has nearly reached his goal of providing a water bottle to every one of the 1,400 sheriffs, police officers, and highway patrolmen in Myrtle Beach and Florence. Overall, the response from both the church members and the officers has been extremely positive, which was exemplified by a recent feature on Channel 15 news. Hughes continues to dream of providing every emergency worker in the area with a water bottle, and he thanks God for what he and his church members have already been able to do.
While focusing on his own backyard, Hughes reached out to the pastoral community around the Carolinas to present the opportunity for their churches to participate in their local communities with the backing of the Conference administration. Five churches (Albermarle, Arden, Greensboro, Lenoir, and Wilksboro) expressed interest in participating, and reached out to their own law enforcement. Since then, even more churches across the Carolinas are looking at how they can express their gratitude as well.
Carolina | September 2017