Police officers from Eugene, Springfield, Gold Beach and the University of Oregon Police Department volunteered for the annual Tip-A-Cop fundraiser at Eugene’s Red Robin on Sunday.

Tip-a-Cop is a nationwide annual corporate event sponsored and hosted by Red Robin to support the Special Olympics. Police officers act as assistants from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the restaurant staff, serving drinks and helping out at tables.

“It’s a way to further serve the community, help out for an organization that really looks up to law enforcement,” UOPD Sgt. Scott Geeting [email protected]@http://uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/Scott%2AGeeting@@ “I think it’s a good way to get out into the community and shake hands and say ‘Hi’ to folks and have a good time.”

Police officers provide an envelope for the customers to leave a tip, hence the name of the event. The tips are then donated to Special Olympics Oregon.

“We actually didn’t know about [the event] until we walked in,” said customer Rustie Ackland,@@[email protected]@ who donated $25. “[The officers] didn’t wait on us, so I was watching them, and it looked like they were doing a good job. I’m sure it will be a success — anybody can give to the kids.”

According to Gold Beach Chief (and Tip-A-Cop volunteer) Dixon Andrews,@@[email protected]@ Oregon Law Enforcement is the top financial supporter of the Special Olympics.

“It’s a privilege for a police officer to be able to really give back to the community. It’s also a special way for us to get to know our community’s special needs,” Andrews said.

Programs and fundraisers like Tip-A-Cop help develop relationships between Special Olympics athletes and coaches, as well as staff and law enforcement.

“A lot of the athletes that I dealt with over the years live in group homes and the Special Olympic events are sometimes the only outlet they have for socialization, so it’s truly a large part of their lives,” Andrews said. “We have an opportunity as law enforcement to mentor a lot of these athletes.”

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