Law enforcement officers wait tables to support Special Olympics

You’ll be amazed at the total tally of tips that Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Deputies gathered for this great cause, during their day of “service” …

Oregon Special Olympics Athlete Basketball Team Medal Winner Taylor Kutz, and MCSO Reserve Deputy John Griener, greet guests coming to the Gateway-area Red Robin restaurant during “Tip-a-Cop” day.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although they’ve been doing it every autumn for years, some people still say they’re surprised to see a cadre of Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies and command staff cleaning tables, bringing water, and serving meals at the Mall 205 Red Robin restaurant.

They call the event “Tip-a-Cop” – because law enforcement organizations such as the Portland Police Bureau also participates, in the Lloyd Center District – but in outer East Portland, “Tip-a-Deputy” would be a better term.

“Regardless of what it’s called, we’re again participating in this ‘Special Olympics Oregon’ fundraising today,” said MCSO Captain Mary Lindstrand.

MCSO Corrections Lt. Nicole Morrisey-O’Donnell and Deputy Tamara Levi share a light moment with a customer.

“Everyone here at the Red Robin today is volunteering on their own time,” Lindstrand remarked. “Some of them have worked their shifts beforehand, or will go on duty after they leave today – or others, of like myself, are here our day off, giving our time to the community.”

“Tip-A-Cop” is part of an annual effort that includes than 144,000 law enforcement officers worldwide to help raise money and public awareness for Special Olympics Oregon, Lindstrand said.

The MCSO staff doesn’t compete with the Red Robin restaurant staff, located at 9880 SE Washington Street, in the Hazelwood neighborhood. Instead, they give patrons flyers and envelopes that explain their presence, and ask for a donation to their cause. “The ‘tips’ we receive go directly to Special Olympics Oregon, to providing training and competition opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities,” Lindstrand told East Portland News.

Mall 205 Red Robin Assistant Manager Heather Cushing spends a moment with MCSO Captain Mary Lindstrand.

“Red Robin is very proud to sponsor Special Olympics Oregon,” smiled Mall 205 Red Robin Assistant Manager Heather Cushing. “Over the last nine years, we’ve raised $2.7 million by partnering with them. It is a great program and a great organization, and we’re really proud to be a part of that.”

In addition to being good fundraising partners, Cushing added, “The command staff and deputies are a wonderful, and a joy to work.”

MCSO staffers help convey birthday greetings to a young customer.

After greeting incoming guests, Lindstrand said helping Special Olympics Oregon helps give “balance” to her professional life. “It’s seeing the athletes compete, and how happy they are, when they win or even if they lose.

“And, Special Olympics also helps give these athletes an opportunity to learn life skills and socialization,” Lindstrand continued. “It’s good to see them gain self confidence and other important social skills.”

MCSO Chief Deputy Jason Gates accepts a donation from departing diners.

After the event, MCSO Chief Deputy Jason Gates said that, at the lunch and dinner “shifts” at the restaurant, they’d gathered a total of $3,000.

Founded in 1972, Special Olympics Oregon is a year-round program offering 14 different Olympic-style sports, in which over 8,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities participate.

Learn more at the Special Olympics Oregon: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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