2019 Rogers Scholar and Somerset High School student Colton Correll presents his “Books and Bears Bags” community service project to Somerset Police Department officers, from left, Bill Greer, Jordan Wesley, Sgt. Greg Guffey, Eric Klepper, and Jordan Walters.

Somerset Police Officers enjoy having stuffed animals in their cruisers.

We carry them because sometimes we show up on a call and it may be an unpleasant scene, domestic abuse, serious accident and many other events. Several calls involve children.

The children may have witnessed something pretty scary. So, we carry the stuffed animals to give to the children. It’s a small gesture that may provide comfort and build trust between the child and officer.

That process works at most scenes involving children, however we also have the same circumstances with older children. Those children aren’t likely to be comforted by a stuffed animal.

Somerset High School Junior and Rogers Scholar, Colton Correll came up with a solution for that problem.

Colton was required to develop and implement his own community service project in order to complete requirements for the Rogers Scholars program.

The Rogers Scholars Program was established in 1996, due to the vision of Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers. The program is managed through The Center for Rural Development. It is considered The Center’s flagship youth program. The aim of the program is to provide leadership skills and scholarship opportunities for the youth in our region.

Colton had an innovative idea to help our officers to help others. His idea was to help our officers to help older kids cope with a traumatic experience. Colton created a project called Books & Bears Bags.

Colton asked for donations of books and bears from his peers at Somerset High School, his church and on social media.

In addition to the books and bears, Colton wrote a letter to the City of Somerset ABC Administrator, Janet Wilson. In the letter, Colton explained his project and asked for bags to pack the books and bears in. ABC donated 100 drawstring backpacks for the project.

This partnership worked out perfect for our officers. Each bag holds a book and a stuffed animal. The intent is to meet the needs of older children the same as with young children.

Some older children enjoy reading. It can be a way of escape from their circumstances.

The backpacks can also be of benefit to a child that may have to leave their home. They can use the packs to carry personal items with them. The backpacks make it easier on the officer as well, as it condenses the books and toys in a way to keep them together and tucked away in their cruisers.

The Somerset Police Department would like to thank Colton for his efforts. He recognized a need for our department and met that need.

Colton attributes the success of this program to his classmates and the ABC Office. Colton was able to fill all the bags with a book and a stuffed toy.

“I was overwhelmed and proud of my fellow Jumpers coming through for me when I asked for donations. It’s pretty neat to think that a simple project like this allowed for my friends to help me help the police who will then help someone else!”
-Colton Correll

“This project of Colton’s will help in future situations our officers find themselves in. I’ve already seen it work firsthand. Colton had most of the bags ready at Christmas. Several of our officers went with me to visit kids spending Christmas at the hospital and the Bethany House Abuse Shelter. We handed out those bags and the kids loved it.”
-Chief William Hunt

Colton brought the bags to the Police Dept. yesterday. There were enough bags packed that every officer including our Safety Officers could take bags and we have many extra left over.

Colton had to get them to us yesterday due to the All A Classic State Basketball Tournament coming up. Colton plays basketball for the Briar Jumpers and thanks to their All A Region Championship, the Briar Jumpers will be busy preparing for the All A Classic held at EKU’s McBrayer Arena. Good luck Jumpers!

This news article was reprinted with permission from the Somerset Police Department.