Joseph Wagstaff, 4, tries his hand at a ball-toss game during the National Night Out celebration at Radium Springs Middle School Thursday. The Dougherty County Police Department, Dougherty County School Police, Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office and the Albany Fire Department hosted the event which featured music, food, games and prizes for children and parents.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty County public safety personnel pitched in to give local citizens a "National Night Out" to remember Thursday.
The event, held at Radium Middle School, was part of a national effort to promote community spirit and partnerships with police in the fight against crime.
"We decided to have it today because it falls with the school system's open-house plans," said Dougherty County Police Department Chief Don Cheek. "With school starting, kids can get their back-to-school supplies."
Participants started lining up at Radium Middle well before 5 p.m., and the lines soon grew quite long. They did move quickly, though, as parents picked up tickets and goody bags to hold the free school supplies.
Book bags in every color imaginable filled with pens, pencils, tablets and other back-to-school supplies were handed out by Ella Woodard and her friends from New Birth Fellowship Church.
"We are happy to support this with the book bags," Woodard said, "especially because it is so hard to afford supplies in these hard economic times."
The need for the school supplies was a constant thread among people attending the event, which also featured raffles, games, bouncy houses, hamburgers and hospitable police. But it was the school supplies that mattered for most present.
Quatesha Williams, of Albany, won three dinners at Sonny's Bar-B-Q and tickets to Carmike Cinemas, but she couldn't stop talking about the school supplies.
"This is just such a good thing for people," Williams said. "I won the tickets, but it is good for people who can't afford the school supplies. It helps so much."
Other help was supplied at tables throughout the event. Every law enforcement agency that took part handed out tips on crime prevention.
At the county police table, children had their fingerprints put on a card as part of a National Child Identification Program ID Kit. The card, along with a DNA swab, would be kept by parents. In the event of an emergency, it could be given to police.
Helen Wilkes had two sons and two daughters fingerprinted. She was grateful for the opportunity, she said.
"This is good for the city. If something happens, it will help the police find (the children)," Wilkes said. "And the school supplies really help us out."
Sponsors for the Thursday night out also included the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, the Albany Fire Department, and the Dougherty County School System Police Department.
The Albany Police Department plans its National Night Out at the Civic Center starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.