• 45°

Funds for fallen officers’ families growing

A trio of local fundraisers are on pace to collect thousands of dollars for donation to the families of two Brookhaven police officers killed in the line of duty.

Katie Windham said sales of the Lincoln County Strong T-shirts are approaching 500 orders, and though the fundraiser has already collected around $8,000, she expects that number to climb Saturday when the final orders are taken at a memorial walk to Brookhaven police headquarters. After the cost of all shirts is paid, the bulk of the money will be split evenly between the families of fallen officers Zach Moak and James White.

“We’re just saying, ‘We love you, here’s some money. Do whatever you need to do with it,’” Windham said. “We want to thank these families for serving us for so long. This is the least we can do.”

The walk begins at 8 a.m. Saturday in front of Faith Presbyterian Church and will proceeds for two miles — down Brookway Boulevard and onto Hwy. 51 to Brookhaven police headquarters, then back up Halbert Heights Road to the church. Lincoln County Strong member Jason Britt will start the event with prayer, then participants will walk, carrying signs of encouragement for the Moak and White families.

There is no charge to participate in the walk, though donations for the families’ accounts at Bank of Brookhaven will be accepted.

Anyone who ordered T-shirts by the first deadline of Oct. 8 will be given their shirts at the walk. The event will also be the final opportunity to order T-shirts, which are made by Next Level Apparel and feature the Lincoln County Strong logo on the back, with a blue-lined outline of Mississippi on the badge. Shirts are $20 each, and prices go up by $2 per “X” for any size after XL. Sizes range from youth to 3X.

“The community has been really awesome,” Windham said. “I can’t tell you how many messages, emails and phone calls I’ve gotten from people supporting this fundraiser.”

Another T-shirt fundraiser in Brookhaven is collecting big money for the families, too.

Zach Harveston, a former Lincoln County dispatcher who now works in communications with the United States Capitol Police, said he’s received orders for more than 800 of his T-shirts, Guild-brand shirts that include a small Brookhaven police logo on the front along with a blue-starred outline of Mississippi, the names of Moak and White and the words, “two heroes that will never be forgotten.”

Orders have come in from Lincoln County and points beyond — California, New Jersey, Chicago and other far-off places.

“I expected this kind of response. Any time this happens, whether it’s an injury to a law enforcement officer or a death, everybody bands together, everywhere across the U.S., to honor these heroes,” Harveston said.

The first order for Harveston’s shirts will be sent off Monday, and the final deadline to order is Oct. 31. The shirts are $20 each for sizes youth to XL, and $22 each for 2X up to 6X.

Orders can be placed through PayPal at “bpdthinblueline,” or in person at Brookhaven police headquarters. Harveston said all proceeds would be split evenly between the Moak and White families.

There will be another chance to support the Moak and White families before the month is out.

Southern Fried Coatings owner Brad Gatlin is holding an auction at the Lincoln Civic Center from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, with all proceeds to be split evenly in the families’ accounts. There are enough items, gifts and packages on the auction block to interest anyone and everyone, and more are coming in, Gatlin said.

“We’re getting bigger and bigger items to auction off,” he said. “It just shows me the heart and character of the people in our community, and abroad. This has not just affected people in Brookhaven — we have colleges and businesses 200 miles away willing to donate. We even have donations coming out of Texas. It just shows the compassion of people, that they get it. They understand.”

Gatlin said his auction will feature items such as a custom-built farmhouse table; memorabilia from Jackson State University, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss; golf vouchers; and possibly a deep-sea fishing charter. Numerous local businesses have also donated items, he said.

Master of ceremonies for the auction will be Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Brendon Adams. Lt. Trea Staples, a highway patrol officer injured in a February 2016 shooting, will be a guest speaker, along with drug court coordinator John Douglas and Nathan Case from Macedonia Baptist Church.

The auction is being catered by Dude’s.

“We’re looking for it to be a big event,” Gatlin said. “We just want everybody to come out with open hearts and open wallets.”

Gatlin’s auction is still accepting donations for auction. Anyone wishing to give to the event may contact him at 601-754-2769. Donations to the Moak and White families will be accepted at the auction.

People can also donate directly to the Moak and White accounts at Bank of Brookhaven by visiting the bank or The Daily Leader office on North Railroad Avenue.