The Marshall County Fraternal Order of Police will host a fish fry Oct. 24.
The first-ever event will be held at the FOP Lodge, 2201 Browns Valley Road, Guntersville.
Catfish plates with whole or filet catfish, French fries, slaw and hush puppies will be $12 each.
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
All funds raised from the event will go towards the FOP charitable programs, including tuition to two Snead State Community College second year law enforcement students; Shop With a Cop Christmas event; and purchase of equipment needed by area agencies.
“We are a group that tries to bring harmony between the community and police departments to show unity,” said Rich Bartley, secretary/treasurer of the FOP.
“We are a fraternal organization that helps in the community as much as we can.”
Among the purchases made for area law enforcement include bulletproof vests for officers and K9s; work on the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office helicopter; a forward-facing infrared radar for the Arab PD drone; donations to the Blessings in a Backpack food program and fallen officers fund; and much more. The group volunteers many hours with area festivals and events, including Hydrofest, annual car shows at County Park No. 1, and others.
Raising money for these projects is important, Bartley said, but the Shop With a Cop program holds a special place in the hearts of officers.
Last year, 39 children shopped with officers. This year, Bartley plans for 50 children to participate. All children will be between the ages of 6 and 14, the most impressionable ages, Bartley said.
“When I moved here from Ohio, we had the Shop With a Cop program there that served about 800 children,” Bartley said. “Down here, there was no real camaraderie between the departments, not much communication between them unless there was a real tragedy.
“Shop With a Cop is a good way to get the departments to interact with each other and we get to help children in the community.”
Participating agencies include the Marshall County FOP Lodge #18, Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, and police departments from Guntersville, Albertville, Arab, Boaz, Douglas and Grant.
Bartley said each child is given $150 to spend on themselves and/or their family members.
Last year, Bartley said one girl spent the entire amount on her parents and five siblings. Officers were so moved, they pooled their own money together to buy her an artist’s kit, a special gift to her since she had already shown off some of her artwork earlier in the day to the officers.
“There are a lot of good programs in the county already,” Bartley said. “But they are never enough. Over 20% of the children in Marshall County are living in poverty.
“We started working with the schools to get ahold of the children that are on the edge or have fallen through the cracks.”
The shopping event begins with the families joining the police for breakfast at the Guntersville Senior Center followed by a lights and sirens parade to the Guntersville Walmart. Once shopping is complete, officers parade back to the senior center to have lunch with the children and their families.
Bartley said anyone wishing to make a donation for the Shop With a Cop program or to the FOP throughout the year may do so by sending a check to FOP, P.O. Box 383, Guntersville, Al. 35976.