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Love Levelland buying tactical helmets for police

Love Levelland presented a check in the amount of $14,445 to the Levelland Police Department Monday for the purchase of tactical helmets after a weeks-long community campaign to raise the funds.

Derek and Ashley Lawless represented Love Levelland at the check presentation Monday.

Ashley said the discussion about a fundraiser for the police department began after the July 15 police shooting in Levelland in which a Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department SWAT Commander, Sgt. Joshua Bartlett, was killed in action and Levelland Police Department’s Sgt. Shawn Wilson was injured after being shot in the head.

Ashley said she was talking with Michele Garcia, the wife of Levelland Police Chief, after the incident and it was brought up that Levelland police officers don’t have helmets.
“And I was like, why not?” Ashley said.

Derek, Ashley’s husband, worked for the Hockley County Sheriff’s Department before being elected Justice of the Peace for Precinct No. 5, thus she had knowledge that the sheriff’s department had recently purchased helmets for deputies.

“I just felt that wasn’t okay,” Ashley said. “We went home and I thought, we can’t just sit back and we started talking and going over everything.”

Derek serves on the board for the Love Levelland organization and suggested the group look at raising funds to provide the police department with helmets.

“The need was blaring,” Derek said. “We decided Love Levelland could use our online platform to make it a thing and reach out to people about the need and they responded.”

Instantly, people began donating to the cause and while many businesses expressed interest in providing the funds necessary to purchase the helmets, Love Levelland wanted to see this as an opportunity for the community to give back to its police officers.

“We really wanted everyone to understand that we wanted the community to have this opportunity,” Derek said.

After the July 15 incident, many people in Levelland were looking for any way to possibly help, and Love Levelland wanted to give the community a chance to be involved in helping those police officers.

“So many people were trying to find a way to help and this was a tangible, long-term option,” Ashley said.

“This was all our community giving and their response to being made aware of a need as opposed to us going out and taking money from corporations,” Derek said.

After raising half the funds needed for the helmet, the group got the final push from the Back the Blue event held in October at the Mallet Event Center.

At that event, the group did a reverse auction for a 2021 Dodge Challenger. There were 20 tickets drawn at the end, and each ticket holder was given the opportunity to either sell their ticket for the right price, or stay in it for the Challenger.

As each ticket was taken away, Charlie Macha, the auctioneer, would take bids for the next ticket. Levelland Police Chief Albert Garcia was one of the final ticket holders and ended up selling his ticket to make up the difference to purchase the helmets.

Derek said the goal for Love Levelland is to “fill the gaps” in the community where help is needed.

“We started this group because we know there are many different organizations in Levelland that do different things and there are always needs,” Derek said. “We want to fill the gaps as best we can, or partner with people to help them reach their goals.”

Derek said the group is also a gospel-centered organization and is focused on sharing the love of Christ with the community.

“We’re a gospel-centered organization, too, and we want to make sure people know it’s not about us,” Derek said. “We’re helping the community because we want the community to know the love of Christ.”

The group wants to express gratitude to the following individuals who donated to make the purchase of the tactical helmets possible, including: Rusty Rose and the group who put together the “Back the Blue fundraiser and Ricky Bryant, The Stache, Matt and Katy Rush, Ricky and Wanda Lawless, Cody and J’Lyn Poage, Ryan and Tori Hall, Paula Combs, Cade and Sierra Avery, Deborah Nock, Megan Damrell, Ashlea Kidd, Melissa Giussani, Jeanie Brown, Debbie Bihl, Tanner and Mary Terrell, Brandon and Kelsie Albus, Cassidy Shaw, Brian and Shelby Lewis, Wendy Bruce, Brent and Misty Rose, Debby Damrell, Matt and Breann Buxkemper, Jason Reed, Shannon Peterman, Pat and Annette Sykora, Dallas and Katie Pena, George Keeling Insurance, Debra Weir and Bob Lacock.

The Love Levelland board includes: Dallas Pena, Derek Lawless, Russell Vest, Shelby Lewis, and Becky Currington.

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