You may have seen the story on al.com earlier in the year, of hundreds of chocolate chip cookies and smiling police officers. We asked the project's organizer, 11th grade student Oakley Baron, to tell us more about it and what it took to bring his idea to fruition.
The project came off even better than I hoped. The initial goal was to provide Cookies for Cops to all three precincts and at all three shift changes for the City of Huntsville Police Department. We wanted to say "thank you" for the service of our police officers who protect us everyday. We ended up providing Cookies for Cops to all the Huntsville Police, the Madison Police, and Madison County Sheriff’s department. Everyone one was extremely appreciative.
One of the chiefs said, "98% of people are grateful for the work we do, but we only hear from the remaining 2%. It's great that some of the 98% are speaking up. It goes along way with the officers."
An officer at the South Precinct (across from Grissom) said that he had not heard of Randolph, but now it was his favorite school. I think we have made a very positive impact in our community and with our officers.
The response has been pretty amazing. We have had several articles published about the project from the Huntsville Times, to AL.com, Do Something, and even Closer Weekly (a Hollywood magazine). I was thanked by Mayor Battle and Chief Lewis Morris of Huntsville, Mayor Trulock and Chief Larry Muncey of Madison, and Sheriff Dorning of Madison County. The response that makes me most excited was hearing that students in a different part of the country heard about our project and plan to do the same for their officers. That is real impact.
This project would not have been possible without a lot of great students. Initially we had about 30 students including most of Junior Classical League, the Girl’s Varsity Basketball team, numerous students from Theatre Randolph, and others who planned to participate over Valentine’s/President’s Day week. I think this is really telling about how amazing these students were to plan on giving up their holiday to help our local police.
We got to overcome some adversity when our plan fell apart on Friday, February 13th. Due to how the actual shift changes occur, the holiday schedule, and inclement weather, we had to move everything to the following weekend. This created a huge challenge for everyone’s schedule our initial group of 30 dropped to a core group of 12 that was committed through thick and thin.
We had four bake centers, led by juniors Isabella Auffenorde, Meghan Matje, Hunter Webb, and freshman Sarah Kate Marsden, to cook the approximately 1,000 cookies. Our Mixing Team was Henley Baron (9th), and juniors Hunter Webb, Junior Koray Davis, and myself. Junior Elle Noller created the Cookies for Cops logo.
Once the cookies were all made, they were packaged by senior Hope Smalley, juniors Isabella, Meagan, Koray, Hunter, Melissa Dillard, Alicia Kubista, Katie Larsen, Meredith Walker, and Henley. Hope, Isabella, Melissa, Katie, Hunter, and Henley made the deliveries to the different precincts.
I also have to say a huge thank you to JCL advisor and Latin teacher Mrs. Hodges, who helped us the most including packing cookies on a Sunday night with her baby.
We could not accomplished this without the love and support of numerous parents including; the Auffenordes, Marsdens, Matjes, Smalleys, and of course my parents, Bob and Amity Baron. I also need to thank my youngest brother Campbell (age 10), who helped throughout the process.
For me, the biggest take-away from this whole experience was the value of communication. Every idea sounds great in the mind of the creator, but it is spreading that idea that differentiates an effective leader. To be honest, this was also what I struggled with the most. This was the first large-scale project that I have really worked on. Sitting down with the different team leaders and ensuring that they were up to speed was often hard, because being so involved with each piece of the operation, it often felt like everyone else must also know every minor detail.
I have done other community service at the Manna House, The Downtown Rescue Mission, and also with the Challenge Leadership program. I supremely enjoyed getting to visit each baking center and getting to watch the cookies go from dough to the final product. Throughout the process, I learned that I am much more of a "on paper" person. Delegating people to groups or organizing the distribution was far easier than actually telling everyone what to do. I am hoping to put this project together again next year and see about expanding it to involve more students.
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