Hope Harrington Oakes
On August 1st, for the 23rd year in a row, area residents of the community are preparing for one of the biggest events of the year, annual National Night Out Against Crime, a community-police event held across the United States. Held annually on the first Tuesday of August since 1984, it is meant to increase awareness about police programs in communities, such as drug prevention, town watch, neighborhood watch, and other anti-crime efforts. There will be seven locations: Townsend Center, Sandfield Community Center, East Columbus Gym, Sim Scott Center, North Havenwood Park, Lee Park, and Southside Downtown (First United Methodist Church). With the exception of the Southside location, which will begin at 6:00 p.m., the events will be from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.
According to Columbus Police Officer Rhonda Sanders, “We’ve been having it for 23 years, and it’s grown every year. We’ll be giving out book bags, free food and drinks, literature. We have partnered with Community Counseling this year. We’ve seen a rise of teenage alcohol and drug abuse, bullying and such, so we are taking a stand on that. So, we’re handing out a lot of literature and educate people on that. It’s typical that some people won’t go to these organizations like Community Counseling or the Weathers Building where they have information on childhood education and health information. These organizations are going to set up there. Many participants include, M & M Tax Service, who’ll be there to help people with their finances, like how to balance their check books. We want to make sure we have as much help and information as possible to help our community.”
Each location will also have music, food and plenty of kid-friendly activities. As part of the event, backpacks filled with school supplies are given to community children for the new school year. Some stations will have DJs and live bands. Sanders stated, “All the stations have a band, except two, so, if any band or local DJ would like to participate, please give me a call and we’ll get you set up.” For more information or to volunteer, contact Officer Rhonda Sanders at 662-251-7355.