By: Robin Koppen
JCPS Communication Specialist
SMITHFIELD – The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #88 (FOP 88) bought and donated 500 backpacks to help children in Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS).
Members of the FOP 88 worked alongside JCPS school social workers, school counselors, student advocates, school nurses, assistant principals, and some central office staff to fill the bags on Thursday, Mar. 17, at the district’s Facility Services office in Smithfield.
Members of FOP 88 representing various law enforcement divisions from all around Johnston County, such as highway patrol, local police departments and the sheriff’s office volunteered to assist.
“I love this part right here,” said Ronald Daniels, who works for Johnston County Alcohol Beverage Control and is a past president of FOP 88. It was Daniel’s idea to put hygiene products in the backpacks this year. Previously, they were filled with school supplies or non-perishable food items.
Daniels realized that if children were in need of school supplies or food, then that need surely extended to hygiene products. He shared this idea with the other FOP 88 members, they agreed and decided to include soap and shampoo in the backpacks.
Now they needed a product that would be beneficial for everyone. Smithfield Police Officer and FOP 88 member Brian O’Branovich asked his wife, who owns a salon, for advice.
She recommended a product that was gentle on skin and contained tea tree oil, which not only smells good, it’s natural properties help with eczema, acne, psoriasis, small cuts and abrasions.
Each backpack included one soap and shampoo. Each of the district’s 48 schools received at least 10 backpacks.
JCPS Executive Director of Social and Emotional Learning Dr. Amanda Allen said the partnership between JCPS and FOP 88 is integral. “The Fraternal Order of Police has played a huge role in keeping book bags in our school building for any student who doesn’t have one, or a student who may have had the misfortune of their book bag breaking during the school day.”
This year students will get to choose from several different colors of backpacks. In addition to the backpack, the accompanying supplies are always welcome.
“The shampoo and soap that was provided will go a long way in supporting the needs of our youth who might not otherwise have consistent access to such nice hygiene products,” said Dr. Allen.
Current FOP 88 president and Johnston County Deputy Sheriff Randall Ackley understands the importance of giving back, especially to the children of Johnston County.
“We just have to let these kids know that there are people who care about them,” Ackley said. “We want to show them we’re more than a badge and a gun.”
Since 2005, the FOP 88 has made it their mission to help meet the needs of JCPS students through the backpack event. This year marks the 17th year that they have continued to show their support.
“It’s an honor to be able to provide for the children of our county,” Brian O’Branovich, an officer with the Smithfield Police Department.
Traditionally the backpacks are distributed at the beginning of the school year, however, supply chain issues delayed the event. Nevertheless, with spring break right around the corner, the timing turned out to be perfect.