Guy-Perkins School District elementary students are working to raise money for the sheriff's office to purchase two bulletproof vests for its K-9s, encouraging other country residents to also chip in.
Susan Beshears, a third grade teacher at the school, said the idea for the project originated as she and Emily Harris, who also teaches third graders at the school, were coordinating social studies curriculum.
The fundraiser works to teach students the efforts of effective communication while also allowing them to learn firsthand the personal impact one can have on the society they live in, Beshears said.
The project that spurred from this assignment has allowed students to learn how the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office impacts the community and has also allowed the students to personally make a difference in the area, Beshears said, noting the third grade class has also reached out to other students in the school and individuals in the community to help raise funds so that the sheriff's office can purchase bulletproof vests for its two K-9s.
"This fundraiser is important to our students," she said. "They are motivated to work hard, donate their own allowance and even their own birthday money to help the FCSO. Our [third] graders are doing research and learning new things about the department and with every new fact they learn, this cause becomes more and more important to them."
Timon and Terry are the first K-9s utilized by the sheriff's office in at least 15 years.
Chief Deputy Matt Rice said Guy-Perkins' initiative to help raise funds to purchase these vests is much needed, noting the sheriff's office is short on supplies needed for its K-9s.
Rice said the sheriff's office had just applied for a grant to purchase these much-needed vests for Timon and Terry when Beshears reached out to him with this fundraising idea. At this time, Rice is unsure if FCSO will be awarded the grant, noting Beshears said students wanted to follow through with the fundraiser, and that funds would go toward other needed supplies if the sheriff's office receives the grant.
The efforts Guy-Perkins students have put into this project is much appreciated by Timon and Terry's handlers — deputies Adam Cox and Keenan Wallace — along with the rest of the sheriff's office, Rice told the Log Cabin Democrat on Monday.
"We just thought it was great that they thought of our department," he said. "By helping us, they are helping the entire community."
Each vest costs nearly $2,000. The school is raising money through April 29 in an attempt to collect $4,000 so that the sheriff's office can purchase these vests for Timon and Terry.
As part of their social studies project, Beshears and Harris' students have worked to create brochures to take to local businesses that focus on the sheriff's office and how purchasing these vests will directly affect the community.
"They went out and did all of the research themselves and made these brochures by hand," Beshears told the Log Cabin on Monday. "Some focused on the handlers and the vests [and] others on the county ... that Faulkner County is 647 square miles and has [more than] 121,000 residents. Some students wrote about the sheriff."
Each third grade student is also required to write a five-paragraph essay that highlights and explains why the FCSO is important to them.
Beshears said the third grade students have reached out to other students, triggering a competition among the school's elementary students.
Guy-Perkins students from Kindergarten through sixth grade are now participating in a drive to raise money to go toward this cause. The class that raises the most money will be rewarded with a pizza party and vouchers to attend an Arkansas Travelers baseball game.
Beshears said this project has provided a hands-on approach to showing the third grade class how working with other people and community leaders can make a difference.
Two to three days a week, Beshears said that students who have received permission from their parents are allowed to ride with her to local businesses after school to give their "sales pitch," in an effort to gather community-wide donations.
Anyone who wishes to give to this cause is welcome to donate to an account that was was set up with First Service Bank.
First Service Bank Business Development Officer Adam Bledsoe, who previously worked as the spokesman for the sheriff's office, said residents are welcomed to donate to the cause at any of the bank's 11 branches by requesting to drop funds into the account for the "Timon and Terry FCSO Project."