The elementary school students ate their breakfasts as police officers milled about the room. Some officers sat with them and talked. Then Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg announced they had five minutes to finish their breakfasts and get into the police cars waiting outside.
But the kids weren't being incarcerated for committing any crimes. They were being honored for raising about $3,600 for the Substance Abuse Prevention Program.
To raise money for SAPP, a program that encourages children to explore alternatives to drugs and alcohol, students from the three local elementary schools sold $3 tickets for two all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts at McDonalds in Craig.
Wednesday morning, SAPP, the Craig Police Department and the Moffat County Sheriff's Department honored the top student fund-raisers by buying them breakfast at McDonalds and awarding them monetary prizes. The top fundraisers in each grade received $25. The second and third fund-raisers won $15 and $10, respectively.
The program started under the guidance of former Craig Police Chief Glen Sherman, Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg said. Originally, the money collected was used to fund the DARE program. Since then, the money has been used to fund many drug and alcohol abuse programs in local schools.
SAPP regularly sponsors alcohol and drug awareness and education events with the Recreational Afterschool Doorway, and hosts parties that are sponsored as alternatives to drinking. One such party is the after-prom program. Hoberg said it's hard to tell how much good the program has done, since no one can keep statistics on how many people have avoided drug and alcohol problems. But he relies on the old adage that if you save even one person, the effort is worth it.
"We're dedicated enough to feel we are making a difference," Hoberg said.
The students had to sell a minimum of 20 tickets to win a prize, said Diana Cook, East Elementary School Principal. In recent years, the money raised has been used to fund craft and exercise programs at the elementary schools.
Justin McAlexander was one of the grand prize winners. The third grader sold 61 tickets by hitting up many downtown businesses and hawking tickets outside Kmart. Rachel Alexander of the sixth grade sold 57 tickets to win the other grand prize by going to "almost every place in town." Both students won radio control cars for their efforts.
Third grader Gavin Spears and his fourth-grade brother Garrett both sold pancake breakfast tickets to support SAPP. Gavin sold 41 tickets by walking house to house, but he said he could have sold enough to win if he hadn't gotten sick.
Garrett tied for second place in his grade. He said he liked selling the tickets because he wanted to raise money to support after-school programs.
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.