Jessica Slater, a junior member of the Grain Valley High School volleyball team, has a message for any member of the Grain Valley Police Department.
“If you happen to stop a Gray Honda Civic that’s going a little bit too fast,” Slater quipped, “please remember that I was one of the volleyball girls who brought you snacks.”
She and teammate Emily Hughes laughed at the off-the-cuff comment, realizing that their recent trip, in which they delivered snack packs to all 27 officers and members of the police department’s support staff, was a show of goodwill, not a way to get out of a speeding ticket.
“It was super cool when we took our snack packs down to the police station,” said Hughes, a senior member of the Eagles. “There were so many officers there when we made the trip and we got to meet them and see them as human beings, and not just authority figures.
“They might wear badges and uniforms, but they’re just normal people who have a lot of responsibilities – like keeping us safe. This is the second year we’ve made the snack packs and it’s something I’m really to miss when I graduate.”
As she watches two of her players talk about the impact the annual trip made on the team, coach Keri Peterson nods in agreement.
“Although this is just the second year we’ve done this, it’s something the girls really look forward to,” Peterson said. “We call it ‘Back the Blue,’ and I got the idea from Ashley Shepherd’s Beautifully Designed (beautifullydesigned.com) website, where they support local police department’s with the ‘Back the Blue’ Day.
“I saw it as a way to give back to our local police department, which gives so much to the community, and a way to plant a seed in the girls on our team. One day, sports will go away, but being thoughtful and caring and giving back is something that lasts a lifetime.”
Peterson’s team received an added bonus as Hughes said, “It’s a great way for our team to bond, too.”
That comment brought a smile to the coach’s face.
“Coach (Randy) Draper and his girls (basketball team) has collected money and gone Christmas shopping (at Target) for many years, and I know that’s a great bonding experience for the girls,” Peterson said. “I’m happy this is a bonding experience for our team, too.”
The girls are each assigned one item to purchase, with their own funds, to fill the snack pack – apples, Gatorade, water, different snacks and gum.
“I was the only senior in my group,” Hughes said, “and we all had our specific things to buy. For instance, I bought eight apples – I bought a few extras so everyone at the station could have a snack.
“They were so appreciative when we brought them. It made me feel great.”
Slater nodded in agreement.
“This year, we actually went into the police station and got to meet the staff and the officers and it just made us all feel good,” Slater said. “Since I’m a junior, I can’t wait to do it again next year.”