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CRJ Donations to Area K9 Units Top $50,000 Over Eight Years

Pictured are officers with the Carbondale Police Department receiving their check from JALC Criminal Justice students. From left: Patrolman Michael Vaughn, K9 Viper, Haley Schultz, Ryne Bryant, Karen Reynolds, Jake Lustig, K9 Cyco, and Chief Jody O’Guinn. (Photo courtesy Jonathan LeBlond)

Pictured are officers with the Carbondale Police Department receiving their check from JALC Criminal Justice students. From left: Patrolman Michael Vaughn, K9 Viper, Haley Schultz, Ryne Bryant, Karen Reynolds, Jake Lustig, K9 Cyco, and Chief Jody O’Guinn. (Photo courtesy Jonathan LeBlond)

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – The John A. Logan College Criminal Justice Department reached a milestone last week, topping the $50,000 mark in donations for canine units working with area law enforcement and firefighting agencies.

Since 2005, hundreds of CRJ students at the college have participated in myriad fundraisers while battling heat, cold, rain and wind to help raise much-needed supplementary funds so that the canine units can continue to play a vital role in police and fire operations.

“Our kids have experienced the helping hands of some and endured the negative comments of others to bring in a successful purse for the dogs,” said CRJ instructor Rick Ellett.

Fundraisers have included: concessions at softball games, bocce tournaments and National Hunting and Fishing Days, as well as the annual “Walking the Dog” Chili Cook-Off and “Grilled Cheese Cook-Off.”

Pictured are officers with the Marion Police Department  receiving their check from JALC Criminal Justice students. From left: Officer Justin Francis, K9 Loeke, Arika Murray, Shelby Counts, Officer Pete Huddleston, K9 Rocky, and Assistant Chief Dan Byrne. (Photo courtesy Jonathan LeBlond)

Pictured are officers with the Marion Police Department receiving their check from JALC Criminal Justice students. From left: Officer Justin Francis, K9 Loeke, Arika Murray, Shelby Counts, Officer Pete Huddleston, K9 Rocky, and Assistant Chief Dan Byrne. (Photo courtesy Jonathan LeBlond)

Ellett said he and his wife (fellow CRJ instructor, Micki) are proud of their students’ efforts.

“We push the kids to be part of the community and to give back to the community,” he said. “We drive them to be people workers. It is very gratifying as an instructor to hear a group of students say they enjoyed an activity. The sophomores recruit the younger students to get involved.”

Ellett said that instructors can deliver the basic academics in the classroom, but the real learning environment is in the field.

“As our softball coach, Bruce Jilek, has reminded me many times, ‘We should strive to deliver good people to the community and the workplace.’ We have seen some students struggle with academics, but after he or she participates and buys into the group activity, their students reflect their positive experience.”

Ellett said additional community events CRJ students have participated in include the Special Olympics Torch Run and Polar Bear Plunge.

“Students are reminded and encouraged through our instruction to do the simple things like to say ‘Hello, how are you?’ or ‘Thank you very much, we appreciate your help.’ We ask them to smile and laugh and just talk. Some of these basic interpersonal skills have been lost with the increased use of social media technology.”

Ellett said he and his wife want CRJ students to enjoy the college experience.

“We hope that by participating in community events and interacting with the community that many of our students will someday become leaders in their community.”