Maddie McGinnis, an eighth-grade student at St. James Catholic School in Millstadt, was concerned about violence against police, and after the death of St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder, she wanted to do her part to help out.
Maddie designed a yard sign supporting police officers — “We Support Our Local Law Enforcement” — and then she started spreading the word.
She thought she would sell 100 signs, but the demand was twice that, and then a second order for another 200 signs came in. With larger orders, she was able to make more money per sign, and in the end, Maddie raised $2,130 for BackStoppers, which provides financial support for law enforcement families whose loved ones are killed or seriously injured on the job.
“I’m glad people are noticing what (police) actually do for us,” she said before a school assembly Tuesday. “I didn’t think it would be this big.”
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St. James eighth-graders are required to complete 30 hours of service as part of their education, but Maddie’s project was close to her personally. Both her father and her grandfather are police officers, and Maddie, who will be a freshman at Belleville West in the fall, said she also planned to go into law enforcement.
“Dad may have a different answer,” her mother, Amber, said.
“But I don’t,” Maddie replied, smiling. She wants to be a patrolwoman and a detective, and also work with canine units.
“I just like helping others,” she said. “It’s fun to do. I watch my dad ... and I just think it’s the coolest thing ever.”
I was excited and also surprised that someone so young could display such devotion and a deep respect for our law-enforcement officers.
Elizabeth Snyder, Officer Blake Snyder’s widow
Eighth-graders Alena Schaltenbrand and Emma Withouse, who are friends with Maddie, helped her with the project and distributed the signs. The signs are spread throughout the metro-east and even across the river in the St. Louis region.
The girls presented BackStoppers with the proceeds from their service project in front of the school, law enforcement and family members Tuesday afternoon.
“Right now we’re taking care of 65 widows and 69 children in grade school, high school and college,” Mel Weith, who sits on the BackStoppers’s board, told the crowd.
As a token of BackStoppers’s appreciation, Weith gave Maddie a “challenge coin” from the organization and four tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals game.
Elizabeth Snyder, Officer Blake Snyder’s widow, also spoke at the event.
“I was excited and also surprised that someone so young could display such devotion and a deep respect for our law enforcement officers,” she said. “That’s me when I was young.”
“It’s very important to help such an organization like BackStoppers to help out with those families,” she said. “This will help.”