Marion, OH Lodge News

District No. 6840

Elks Help City Police Kids Program

It was the brainchild of Chief Tom Bell of the Marion City Police Department. There was a segment of the youth population in town that weren’t getting the attention they deserved. They deserved a positive pat on the back.

So was born Camp Positive Rewards, a way to recognize twelve to sixteen year old lower and middle income kids that had chosen to take the high road in life. Good, positive kids that were role models in their schools, yet didn’t excel in ways that typically brought recognition and opportunity.

“I saw a lot of time, energy and resources devoted to turning around kids that had, well, shown a disregard for the rules” said Bell. “While that’s good and necessary, what bothered us was that we had a lot of young people who were doing exactly what society asked of them, and many times overcoming some hardships to do so. The kind of kids that were good role models in their schools, participated in extra circular activities – positive kids.”

The MCPD secured a grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s office, and created Camp Positive Rewards in 2002. Initially they targeted minority middle school children by going to the schools to seek nominations from school officials and the MCPD School Resource Officers on site. Grades and backgrounds were checked, the young people were interviewed and selected to participate.

Deb Morford, Juvenile Intervention Specialist with the MCPD, has been instrumental in coordinating the program since its inception. “The first year we did a two week camp, and the kids really enjoyed it,” said Morford. “But when the grant money ran out, the program kind of stalled – until the Marion Elks Lodge came along.”

Donations from the local Elks instant bingo proceeds enabled the MCPD to resurrect the program on a smaller scale. They limited the activities to two day-long events in 2004. Again working with school officials and the MCPD School Resources Officers, a list of deserving students was generated. As a positive reward for their accomplishments, ninth and tenth grade male students were invited to an outing to Mohican State Park in June, and seventh and eighth grade kids were invited to a day at Wyandot Lake in July. Both groups were accompanied by the Chief of Police and the two MCPD School Resource Officers.

Liz Feleciano, an officer with the Marion Elks Lodge, was on hand to deliver another check for over $900 to Chief Bell. “This is exactly the kind of program we were looking for as a recipient of our charitable work,” said Feleciano. “The Elks are a big supporter of youth programs, and to help get this one up and going again means a lot to us. We would like nothing better than to see other groups contribute so Camp Positive Rewards can grow even bigger in 2005.”

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