An hour before the candlelight vigil in memory of fallen Illinois State Police Trooper Nick Hopkins Thursday night, Ashley Hewitt finished the first four of what will be thousands of shirts.
“I’m just one person,” Hewitt said, “but I wanted to do something for (Nick’s wife) Whitney and the kids.”
Hewitt and several others in the community have announced fundraisers to support the Hopkins family.
Hewitt, with the help of Collin Caywood, both Waterloo residents, are selling T-shirts to raise money for the family.
All funds from the T-shirt sales will be given to the Hopkins family through the ISP’s Heritage Foundation.
Since beginning the fundraising effort, Hewitt has already had 2,100 requests for shirts and is preparing for a second round of orders.
The demand for shirts has come from local residents who want to help out, but also from other police and fire departments.
“I’ve had orders from as far away as Webster Groves in Missouri and Pinckneyville who order shirts for the whole department,” Hewitt said, noting that one such order was for 50 shirts.
Hewitt also remarked that the community support for the production of shirts has been good. On Monday, Hewitt and 25 volunteers used nine presses to make 1,800 shirts for the first order. Shorty’s Smokehouse in Waterloo donated lunch for volunteers, with several local mothers bringing desserts.
One of Hewitt’s friends, who did not wish to be identified, stressed that “we aren’t doing this to get in the newspaper. We just want to help out.”
While Hewitt is in charge of shirt production, Caywood, the chief administrator of the Southwest Illinois Fire Incidents Facebook page, is helping with the logistics of filling orders.
Orders may be placed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and Caywood will send a reply email with an order form attached.
T-shirts are $20 for local pickup. Shirts can be mailed for an additional $6.
Shirts from the first pressing will be available for those who have already ordered at the Waterloo Fire Department this Thursday from 4-7 p.m. The second round of orders will be available for pickup at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Blue light bulbs for a “Light It Up Blue Waterloo” campaign will also available Thursday and Saturday at the fire station. Hewitt and Caywood are also heading that effort. The “Light It Up Blue” event takes place Monday evening, Sept. 9.
Community of giving
Waterloo Dairy Queen held a fundraiser honoring Trooper Hopkins on Tuesday. They had donation jars displayed in the restaurant all day in addition to the percentage of sales that the store will donate.
Five young Waterloo men went around their neighborhood carrying a Thin Blue Line flag honoring law enforcement and collected funds for Backstoppers in honor of Trooper Hopkins.
Brody Kenner, Parker Koogler, Landon Schlemmer, Drew Vogt and Henry Wildman were able to raise $2,250 through their efforts.
BackStoppers of Monroe County thanked all who have donated to the organization in the trooper’s memory.
“All these funds will be sent to BackStoppers to help them continue their mission of eliminating all debt for surviving spouses of our fallen first responders,” BackStoppers of Monroe County posted on Facebook. “All this week I have been touched by the generosity and overall support that this county has shown for Nick Hopkins and his family. From the donations, blue ribbons, electronic signs, flags and people lining the streets to show their love for our fallen hero. This is Monroe County! This doesn’t surprise me at all. This is what we do!”
Also, 1 Nation Nutrition in Waterloo has “blue line” hats and mugs available at their store and they will be donating 10 percent of all sales this week directly to BackStoppers of Monroe County.
Quality Collision & Towing, with locations in Columbia and Waterloo, is accepting donations on behalf of BackStoppers during regular business hours.
In addition to BackStoppers, donations may be made to the Hopkins family by visiting the ISP’s Heritage Foundation website isphf.org/donations, or via U.S. mail to Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 8168, Springfield, IL 62791.
Organizers of Monday’s Immaculate Conception Parish Picnic in Columbia said five percent of gross proceeds from this year’s event will be donated directly to the family. In addition, collection buckets for the family were available at many of the stands at this year’s picnic.
“The buckets at each of the stands were overflowing with donations,” event organizers posted Tuesday on Facebook.