The NRA Foundation has awarded the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department a grant totaling $6,000 to fund equipment for School Resource Officers assigned the responsibility of protecting our schools. "We are very excited about being the recipients of this grant," said Sheriff Robert W. “Bobby” Hawkins Jr., adding, "and we are pleased that the NRA is making an investment in the protection of our schools and community."
Recently, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office received funding for four new School Resource Officer positions for two (2) secondary schools and two (2) primary schools through a Department of Criminal Justice Grant. Those positions will place additional law enforcement resources at Mecklenburg County Schools. The Grant from The NRA Foundation will provide Colt firearms to those officers and will be used to protect the students of Mecklenburg County Public Schools and Mecklenburg County citizens as well.
Mecklenburg County School Superintendent Paul Nichols commented, “Many thanks to Mr. Lee, Mr. Wells, and the members of the Friends of NRA that supported this grant for the safety of our new middle and high school complex. Our new school facility was designed to provide the best safety features available…but no built-in features are as important to us as our team of SRO's (School Resource Officers).” Nichols added, “They work so hard to support and interact with our students and staff, realizing that their first priority is to establish good relationships with the students, particularly those that come to our schools from difficult home circumstances.
Nichols continued by saying, “However, they are always prepared to deal with any significant threat that may come, and have tragically come to schools throughout our state and nation. This donation provides a critical resource that is necessary for them to face that threat, and for this purpose we are very grateful for this support.”
The idea for the grant arose after a conversation between Nichols and Clarksville’s John Lee, regarding school safety and the new school’s state of the art security. Following that conversation, Lee was the driving force behind the grant and worked hand in hand with Nichols, Sheriff Hawkins, and David Wells, the NRA’s Eastern Regional Director.
“We are pleased to have played a small role in making Mecklenburg County Schools safer through this resources grant,” stated Wells, adding, “However, the real credit for this funding belongs to the many volunteers, donors, and supporters of the Friends of NRA program that work tirelessly to support our cause and mission of supporting the shooting sports, including the local and very popular Southside Friends of NRA Committee.”
The Southside Virginia Friends of NRA Committee volunteers hold their annual banquet at Arrowhead Gun Club each September. Lee serves as the longtime chairman the highly successful committee whose annual banquet has broken its previous year fundraising record each of the last 10 years running, including in 2022. Funds raised at this event are returned to the community and region primarily in the form of assistance to youth shooting sports.
They are returned as grants awarded to entities such as local 4-H chapters and their shooting programs, and the Arrowhead Gun Club that serves as the home of the highly decorated local “Arrowhead Young Guns” shooting team. That team, coached by Charles Russell, is the largest scholastic clay target program in the state consisting of 21 youth, including seven female shooters.
Additionally, those funds can be allocated for special grants such as this one to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, if they are approved by the state volunteer committee who oversees how the Friends of NRA funds are distributed throughout Virginia. “Given all the work we put into our annual fundraising event, it is gratifying to know that the contributions made at our banquet stay here and benefit and bring value to those in our local communities,” Lee stated, adding “this is exactly the kind of grant that drives our chapter to continue its strong legacy of raising substantial funds to support the shooting sports and incredibly worthy efforts such as this one.”
Sheriff Hawkins noted, “It is a great honor to get assistance from Friends of the NRA in the acquisition of this grant to help better protect and serve the citizens of Mecklenburg County."
Pictured above for the check presentation are (Right to left), Deputy Deandre Craighead, Deputy Dusty Lett, Sergeant Jamie King, Deputy Daniel Medlin, Corporal Josh Carroll, Mecklenburg County Schools Superintendent Paul Nichols, Deputy Justin Burch, NRA Eastern Regional Director David Wells, Sheriff Hawkins, Southside Friends of NRA Chairman John Lee, Captain Chris Whittemore and Captain Brent Evans.