The SWAT officer holding the giant inflatable donut didn’t catch the eye of a lot of busy morning commuters as they pulled into the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru.
But it didn’t matter.
For about two hours, Tustin SWAT team member Michael Carter was the cop on the roof at the “Cop on the Rooftop” event at the Dunkin’ Donuts at the Village at Tustin Legacy fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Even if people didn’t always notice Carter, they certainly noticed the 10 Tustin officers at the entrance and at the drive-thru collecting donations.
That did matter.
The officers raised nearly $1,275 — tops in Orange County — of the 21 locations across Southern California that held the fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 27.
“I almost fell a couple of times, but it’s worth it if it helps raise the amount of donations,” Carter joked after climbing down.
Fellow Officer Pam Hardacre, who was in charge of the event, said some locals came out and donated because they found out about the event on social media and others found out when they stopped to get donuts.
“Everyone has been very receptive, wanting to find out more about Special Olympics or the police department,” Hardacre said.
A mom with two young kids walked up to the officers, and her son dropped a small Ziploc bag with a few dollars in it in the collection box.
“He was so proud to give us this, his little bag of money,” Hardacre said.
The mom and kids entered the donut shop and re-emerged a few minutes later with a morning snack.
“We always talk about how we respect police officers and appreciate them,” said Jill Foster, whose kids, Bradley and Brooke, offered up their allowance. “Their dad rides a motorcycle and they have an uncle who is special needs, so this was cool.”
Hardacre clearly was touched by the donation.
“It starts from the top,” she said. “Parents teaching their kids to give back to the community, to charity. And they’re not forced, they’re excited.”
Carter, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, agreed. And that perspective can manifest into great acts of giving and kindness.
“It’s cheesy, but from day one at the academy, you’re taught about taking pride in your community,” he said. “In the end, we’re all the same kind of people. That’s why we care so much.”