Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) - Monday afternoon, officers with the Lexington Police Department’s Community Action Team (C.A.T.) worked alongside officers from the Camden Police Department, Irmo Police Department, and the City of Columbia Police Department to pack 500 Greg’s Groceries boxes. Greg’s Groceries is a program of Serve & Connect, the organization founded by Kassy Alia, wife of fallen Forest Acres police officer Greg Alia, after his death.
Greg’s Groceries are small and easily distributable food boxes with some essential items inside. They are compact and easy to store, carry, and give away when a crisis arises. The food inside is enough to provide some basics to a family in an emergency and hold them over during a short period.
The boxes are usually delivered by an officer who has come across the recipient in their community. The people who are hungry, be they children, adults, or an entire family, may need just enough food to get them through a few days until a more comprehensive solution is found. No matter how people get in these situations, officers know that hunger sometimes drives people to do desperate things. Often, the little bit of food in the Greg’s Groceries box can defuse a tense encounter. It’s also a quick way of letting people know that officers do understand and care.
The 500 boxes packed Monday will go a long way in SC. Although that seems like a lot, understand that Greg’s Groceries has only been in existence for a year. In that period, more than 37,000 Greg’s Groceries boxes have been gifted. Today, they are with departments all over South Carolina that are ready to give them out if necessary.
C.A.T. Teams are becoming more and more prevalent with police departments. Although not all departments formally call them Community Actions Teams, these units all have similar functions. Their members go into a community, get to know the residents, assist where possible, and connect needs of the citizens with resources that will fill those needs. In addition to the Town of Lexington’s and Irmo’s C.A.T. teams, there are many more. If you live outside a city or town, there’s one at the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. The City of Cayce has a similar squad they call their C.O.P.S. Team. If you have questions about these teams and their objectives, or would like to help, call the law enforcement agency that provides your primary protection. To learn more about Serve & Connect, go to their webpage at www.serveandconnect.net.