Hilliard girls make sweet gesture toward police dogs with lemonade stand
As soon as one Hilliard Division of Police police cruiser drove away, another soon arrived Aug. 18 at a lemonade stand in front of a Circle Drive residence in Hilliard.
Lakeyn Warrick, 8, a student at Avery Elementary School, and her neighbor, Tegan Green, 4 served the lemonade to each arriving officer.
In between, other motorists stopped or were hailed by the girls and other neighborhood children who joined in their activity.
The price was $1, but they often received more than that because they were raising money to benefit the Central Ohio Canine Foundation.
“(The police) make sure we’re OK, so I want to make sure they’re OK,” Lakeyn said.
The two-day operation on Aug. 17 and 18 netted $231, said Chandra Warrick, Lakeyn’s mother.
The Central Ohio Canine Foundation planned to visit Lakeyn the week of Monday, Aug. 24, to receive the donation, deliver a T-shirt and bring Khoas, a PTSD service dog who will be placed with a U.S. Navy veteran in West Virginia, for Lakeyn to meet, said Ally Gruber, a board member for the foundation.
The foundation provides support for K-9 units in Crawford, Delaware, Franklin, Knox, Licking, Marion, Morrow, Richland and Union counties, but it can reach out farther with service dogs, Gruber said.
The foundation’s overall goal “is to help fund police, fire, search and rescue, and service dogs for veterans,” according to the organization’s website, centralohiocaninefoundation.org.
Khoas, a Belgian Malinois and German shepherd mix, is the first dog the foundation has placed, Gruber said.
The foundation was established last year as a nonprofit headquartered in Mount Gilead, and its president is Thomas Cronenwett, a sergeant and K-9 handler for the Mount Gilead Police Department, she said.
Cronenwett wanted to raise money to equip his police dog, Nik, according to centralohiocaninefoundation.org.
“It started as ‘Friends of Nik,’ but after (Cronenwett) had Nik, he thought why not do this for everyone?” Gruber said.
The name was changed to the Central Ohio Canine Foundation and established as a nonprofit, she said.
The foundation has raised about $10,000 this year, Gruber said.
Lakeyn’s love for dogs and support for local police officers have several sources.
Warrick’s grandfather, Jack Kunkle, was a Columbus police officer, and Warrick displays some mementos of her grandfather’s law-enforcement career at her residence, she said.
In addition to that family connection, Lakeyn’s uncle is Todd McGinnis, a retired Norwich Township firefighter. McGinnis’ friend is Tony LaRosa, a former Hilliard K-9 handler who now is a sergeant and a K-9 handler for the village of Shawnee Hills.
Lakeyn was introduced to police dogs by LaRosa when he was with the Hilliard Division of Police. LaRosa served in Hilliard until June 2018, according to Andrea Litchfield, a Hilliard police spokeswoman.
LaRosa facilitated the donation to the Central Ohio Canine Foundation, Warrick said.
Lakeyn also met Hilliard police motorcycle officer Brandon Long last year after he saw her learning to ride a bicycle and stopped to offer his help.
Hilliard police officers learned about Lakeyn’s mission Aug. 17 when she invited a passing officer to stop for a cup of lemonade, and through word of mouth and social media, the parade of visitors grew, including numerous police officers, Norwich Township firefighters, a letter carrier and residents like Joe Pittenger, who said he saw the post and stopped by to contribute.
“We never thought it would be this successful,” Warrick said.
Hilliard police Chief Robert Fisher said officers are honored that Lakeyn chose to support law enforcement with her lemonade stand.
“We were reminded once again that the Hilliard community has a big heart, (and) we are grateful for the opportunity to serve this community,” he said.