The La Habra Police Department this year raised the most funding in Orange County, the most in the entire state and ranked No. 3 in the country in the annual Tip a Cop fundraiser to support Special Olympics.
La Habra PD raised more than $5,000 at the Red Robin campaign, and was only slightly edged out for the national top spot by agencies in Portland, Ore. and Olympia, Wash.
The event involves officers volunteering their time to wait on patrons, hoping to solicit large tips to donate to the Special Olympics, which pays for many athletes to participate in the annual games.
It costs about $500 a year for an athlete to compete.
Chief Jerry Price, who annually participates in this event, said he is proud of the efforts of all of his officers involved, as well as the support of the community, for such an important cause. Price knows that La Habra’s success is largely due to the hard work done by La Habra Community Services Officer II Christina Nunez, who organizes LHPD’s Tip a Cop efforts.
Nunez says she can’t pinpoint why they have such a great turnout at their event, which often is standing-room only.
Maybe La Habra simply wants to deliver on their city motto: “A Caring Community.” We certainly have a tremendous amount of community support from our residents and local business members.
“It’s like a family reunion every year,” Nunez said. “Alfred Esparza, La Habra’s Red Robin store manager, and his staff always make us feel welcome and the athletes who join us enjoy pairing up with the officers and helping them serve.”
Special Olympics swimmer John Blalock, 28, joins La Habra officers at the event as a server every year and often pulls big tips.
And he knows why.
“I’m good looking,” he explained.
He also happens to be a great swimmer.
Blalock has lost count of the number of medals he has won since he started competing in the Special Olympics eleven years ago.
Although Blalock’s team, the Fullerton Sharks, is sponsored by Coach’s Oats, he said he looks forward to participating in Tip a Cop to raise funds so other athletes can participate in the games.
“I like to be there with all my friends and all the cops,” he said. “We walk around and see all the people supporting Tip a Cop. And we eat a lot, too.”
Blalock always orders the same thing.
“I get a bacon guacamole hamburger, and I eat the whole thing.”
Whether it is the wonderful food, the special athletes, the officers’ service, or the fact that the Special Olympics is such a wonderful cause; one thing is for sure, next year La Habra will look to improve their fundraising efforts. After all, number one in the nation sounds pretty good.