For many Sunday, Sept. 11 was a day of remembrance and celebration of life on the 15th anniversary since the events of 9/11 shook our country, and reignited a level of pride and patriotism inside all Americans.
In O’Fallon at the Courage & Grace (C & G) art studio on Sunday spirits were high.
“We support our O’Fallon Police officers 100 percent, and we wanted to support them, and we thought this would be a perfect opportunity on this 15 year anniversary of 9/11 which affects so many nationally (and even internationally) while still keeping our fund raising efforts local for underprivileged youth in O’Fallon who benefit from the ‘Cops & Kids’ program,” Jennifer Adank, C & G co-owner, said.
At 2 p.m. Heather O’Donnell, an employee of the studio and a per-kindergarten teacher at Faith Lutheran Church School, said $500 had been raised in the first hour alone.
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We support our O’Fallon Police officers 100 percent, and we wanted to support them, and we thought this would be a perfect opportunity on this 15 year anniversary of 9/11 which affects so many nationally (and even internationally) while still keeping our fund raising efforts local for underprivileged youth in O’Fallon who benefit from the ‘Cops & Kids’ program.
Jennifer Adank, Courage & Grace co-owner
“This is just so wonderful to see the community coming together on such an important day in our history to work together side-by-side making art that reflects how we feel,” O’Donnell said as she pointed towards per-done samples with logos saying, ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers,’ ‘Always Give Thanks,’ ‘Dream Big Always,’ and ‘Give thanks.’
The program is a collaborative effort between the OPD and the local school districts involving teachers making recommendations for children who may be in need during the holiday season, whether it may be due to poverty or unplanned circumstances such as a family emergency or home fire. Then those children are taken shopping at Wal-Mart by OPD officers before Christmas to purchase a gift of his or her choosing.
“Last year the OPD said they provided for about 40 kids at about $250 a piece, so our goal today was to raise $1,000, so they could have enough for four more kids to participate,” Adank said.
Last year the OPD said they provided for about 40 kids at about $250 a piece, so our goal today was to raise $1,000, so they could have enough for four more kids to do the ‘Cops & Kids’ holiday program. Jennifer Adank, Courage & Grace co-owner
By the end of the fundraiser the business had raised $1,250 for the program — surpassing the goal.
“We’re so excited to help kids, cops and keep patriotism alive in O’Fallon,” Adank said.
OPD Ofc. Clay Hoff and Ofc. Adam B. Krack both said they enjoyed getting their hands dirty on Sunday to help raise money for kids in the community.
We’re so excited to help kids, cops and keep patriotism alive in O’Fallon.
Jennifer Adank, Courage & Grace co-owner
“This is an awesome program, and with the tension between police and communities nationwide lately, Lori and I thought it would be a good idea to give us officers another chance to be alongside our city’s youngsters while doing a fun and artistic activity,” Hoff said.
Krack turned 32 on Sunday, so working on his birthday that is also a national day of remembrance is “worth it, and we get to have fun while we help too.”
Being a military wife, Adank said the 9/11 anniversary really hits close to home for her and her family.
“It’s near and dear to our hearts, my husband has served twice now since the conflict started (The Global War on Terror),” Adank said.
The other co-owner, Lori Lambeth, is friends with OPD Ofc. Clay Hoff because they grew up together, and so Adank said, “We were brainstorming ideas, and Lori said, ‘let’s do something for the police officers here,’ especially since it’s been such a contentious time for officers of law enforcement everywhere lately, and since we wanted to do something that benefited everyone kids, police and the community — this is a way to bring it full circle.”
So that’s what they did — turned a possible negative into a definite positive, all the while, honoring those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks 15 years earlier in New York City, N.Y.
From 1-4 p.m. the studio was open to the public to join in on the artistic expression for a “great community cause,” Lambeth said.
“We had any 10 by 10 stained or painted wooded board canvases available for kids and adults alike, and we were asking for a $10 donation, which we felt was very affordable, and it is a little bit of a quicker process doing the smaller projects if people want(ed) to just stop in and participate but not stay the whole time,” Adank said.
At 4:30 p.m. the studio welcomed individuals who per-registered for a different workshop with a $45 or more donation to complete any of the larger projects that were hanging on the studio walls.
“Funds from both the earlier session and the evening session all went to the ‘Cops & Kids.’ So we had kinda both tastes of what Courage & Grace is with the smaller, quicker ones, and then the bigger true projects,” Adank said.
Over the course of the day, the studio had attendees trickle in and other times the studio was elbow-room only and not a seat left.
Two sisters, McKenzie and Amanda Breihan, from other towns said they heard about the event on Facebook, and decided to use the event as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, get an afternoon away from the kids and supporting other local metro-east police departments that often work with their significant others as fellow brothers in law enforcement. McKenzie’s husband is an officer with the Edwardsville PD, and Amanda’s fiance is an officer with the Highland PD.
“When we can we want to support their fellow departments in helping the community, especially on a day like today, on a day of 9/11 remembrance,” McKenzie said.
The two giggled, and Amanda said, “Plus this is like super fun for us. We love being crafty together and we get some free time away from the kids.”
Cindy Wolf was celebrating her birthday as well on Sunday with her friend Jaye Smith at the studio.
“I used to feel strange celebrating my birthday on a day like 9/11 when so many were lost and/or negatively affected, but now it’s like well I can at least do something good on my birthday by joining in on activities and events like this one,” Wolf said.
I used to feel strange celebrating my birthday on a day like 9/11 when so many were lost and/or negatively affected, but now it’s like well I can at least do something good on my birthday by joining in on activities and events like this one.
Chiming in, her friend Smith said, “well you should celebrate your birthday too. I mean it’s all about life right, and yes, many lost theirs that day, but you didn’t and because of that you are able to be an active participant in things like this fundraiser for kids and cops — and that is priceless.”