“Community” was the word on everyone’s lips when residents, businesses and volunteer organizations from in and around Mint Hill gathered with the Mint Hill Police Department at Veterans Park to celebrate National Night Out.
“Costco is all about the community,” said Membership Manager Jeff. “We want to do everything we can to support the community because without the community we wouldn’t be here.” Costco gave out free backpacks to children at National Night Out and is partnering with police departments in Matthews, Mint Hill and Union County to get backpacks and other supplies to kids in need this fall.
“We just love being a part of Mint Hill!” said Chick-Fil-A’s Marketing Director. “Anything they have going on that we can be a part of, we’re there!” The Albemarle Road location, a longtime supporter of National Night Out, recently renovated their kitchen and expanded to a double drive through to improve service. Of course the iconic Chick-Fil-A cows circulated through the crowd giving high fives and taking photos.
“Many of us are Mint Hill residents, our church sits in Mint Hill,” said Twanna Henderson of New Beginnings Community Church. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to support our Mint Hill Police Department, which does an awesome job.” Henderson also recruited for the Twanna T. Henderson Breast Cancer Awareness Race, which will take place on September 29, and spread the word about New Beginnings’ Community Life Center.
Many Mint Hill staples came out to show their support for the policemen and women who serve our city every day. Mint Hill Roasting Company gave out cold brew coffee while volunteers from the Mint Hill Historical Society brought artifacts from the Carl J McEwen Historical Village. Volunteers from the Police Department itself gave out kid-friendly prizes like coloring books and fidget spinners as well as adult essentials like gun locks. They also raffled off several bikes!
Mint Hill’s National Night Out also drew organizations from the broader Charlotte area who wanted to spread the word about their services. The District Attorney’s office and Safe Alliance, an organization that provides services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, both gave out information on their programs, volunteer opportunities, and upcoming events.
Organizations that partner with the police department were also present to show Mint Hill the work they do. PAL Mint Hill, a new chapter of the Police Activities League, promoted the work they hope to do here in Mint Hill. “We just started the Mint Hill chapter about two months ago,” said director Derrick Long. “It was voted in in May 2018 in Miami, Florida, at our National PAL Conference.”
PAL Mint Hill recently received a $45,000.00 grant to support their mentoring initiative in local schools. “We’re starting the mentoring program at Rocky River,” said Chief Ledford. “They started out with something like a little over 30 students the first week. The second week was over 100 students, so it really caught on!”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolinas hopes to partner with Mint Hill’s police officers in a similar way for “Bigs in Blue,” a one-on-one mentoring program that connects police with youth in the communities they serve. Program Coordinator Angelica Johnson feels the “Bigs in Blue” program helps young people understand that police officers are regular people. “Even though their job is to protect and serve, they are still human!” says Johnson.
That was the ultimate goal of Mint Hill’s National Night Out: to bring police together with the people they serve in a social, low-pressure atmosphere. The family-friendly night in the park featured plenty of kid-friendly entertainment: a bounce house, games and face painting by Miss Mint Hill’s pageant queens, a bike safety rodeo run by Honor the Warriors and police dog demonstrations.
National Night Out is an annual campaign to bring police together with neighbors and community organizations in a positive and fun atmosphere. Millions of people from communities in all fifty states, US Territories, and military bases around the world gather on the first Tuesday in August to promote neighborhood camaraderie and police-community partnerships. Mint Hill was one of over 70 National Night Out events scheduled to take place locally in Mecklenburg County neighborhoods.