Slowing through the Westminster Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through on a recent early morning, a woman in a brownish-gold SUV said amicably through her open window to the group standing outside:
“Good morning, am I donating?”
Special Olympics Southern California board member Caren Roberson, who was holding a white Law Enforcement Torch Run Special Olympics donation bucket and standing next to a couple of Westminster PD officers, responded to the driver:
“We’re raising money for Special Olympics today and any donation gets you a free cup of coffee.”
Another driver, a woman in a white SUV, said she had a $20 and $2. She handed over the $20.
For the first year, the Westminster Police Department participated in Cop on a Rooftop, a law enforcement partnership with Special Olympics that helps raise donations for athletes in the program. Dunkin’ Donuts in Westminster hosted the Nov 2. event from 6 to 10 a.m. and supplied the coupons for a free cup of coffee for those who donated at the event. Several members of the WPD attended to offer support and outreach to community members as Roberson collected donations.
Roberson said $500 covers the expenses of one Special Olympics athlete for a year — including training and uniforms.
“It all goes to help families,” Roberson said. “That’s why every dollar matters.”
Those walking in for some donuts, coffee, or both were greeted by WPD Chief Ralph Ornelas, officers, and other WPD employees, who explained the donation event. Many going through the drive-through saw Roberson and officers, rolled down their window, learned about the event and quickly searched for cash or change. One woman who had neither on her actually returned with a check. Another woman who walked up and spoke to officers came over to donate and talk to Roberson enthusiastically because her son is part of the Special Olympics. The two hugged.
Ornelas said it’s important that leaders in law enforcement support the cause and express to the public how much it helps the athletes. Plus it’s a great partnership with a local business like Dunkin’ Donuts, he said.
“I think it’s really beneficial to the Special Olympics,” Ornelas said.
Sgt. Kevin MacCormick has been involved with the Special Olympics for many years.
“The athletes are my inspiration,” he said. “Cops are people too – we have some of the biggest hearts. These kids really touch a lot of cops’ hearts.”
WPD Det. Marcela Lopez worked at the Regional Center of Orange County, assisting those with special needs, before she became an officer.
“I think it’s a really great cause,” she said of the Special Olympics programs. “I thought it’d be a really great thing to be a part of.”
WPD Civilian Investigator Lolita Diaz has worked with special needs kids in the past.
“Any chance that I get, I try to give back and help out,” she said.
As Roberson put it, “The athletes are the heart and soul … the volunteers, these guys are the arms and legs that make it work.”