Showing Support: Alabaster citizens come together to provide free, safe meal for police

A waitress serves food to Alabaster Police Officers Gonzalez, Harrleson, Houser and their families at a dinner to support the police department on July 11. The meal was free to the officers and their families, made possible by donations from residents and local businesses.

A waitress serves food to Alabaster Police Officers Gonzalez, Harrleson, Houser and their families at a dinner to support the police department on July 11. The meal was free to the officers and their families, made possible by donations from residents and local businesses. (Reporter photo/Keith McCoy)

By CLARKE STACKHOUSE/Staff Writer

ALABASTER – The rain didn’t dampen the spirit of many supporters of the Alabaster Police Department on July 11, as Alabaster citizens gathered at Buck Creek Pizza and Wings to allow officers and their families’ a free, safe meal.

Organizers of the event Kim Kielbasa and Dena Bedsole said they both had the idea after seeing a similar event being done in Helena.

“I saw Helena was doing something and thought, ‘That’s a great idea.’” Bedsole said. “I knew we had to do something in Alabaster.”

Bedsole said as the wife of a police officer, she felt like it was important to support the local officers and show them they were valued and respected by the city. Kielbasa said she wanted the Alabaster police to know they had the city’s support after shootings in Dallas left five officers dead on July 7.

“It’s one thing to say how much of a shame it is,” Kielbasa said. “I wanted to do something more, and it was time for action. Time to celebrate the work they do.”

Bedsole said she contacted the owner of Buck Creek Pizza and Wings, Hunter Spradlin, on Friday just a few hours before Kielbasa did. The two organized the event together trough texting and phone calls. Kielbasa said they had never met each other meeting face-to-face for the first time the night of the event.

Spradlin said he joined the Marines right after high school and tries to do whatever he can for public servants.

“Every man and women who wears a uniform deserves respect more then what they usually get,” Spradlin said. “I’m happy that I can give back in my own way.”

Event organizers Dena Bedsole (left) and Kim Kielbasa stand with Buck Creek Pizza and Wings owner Hunter Spradlin stand in front of a sign welcoming the officers into the restaurant. (Reporter photo/Keith McCoy)

Event organizers Dena Bedsole (left) and Kim Kielbasa stand with Buck Creek Pizza and Wings owner Hunter Spradlin stand in front of a sign welcoming the officers into the restaurant. (Reporter photo/Keith McCoy)

Despite a light rainfall, many people showed up and lined the walkway to the door as the officers entered the restaurant with their families.

“We were hoping the sun would come out for our party,” Kielbasa said. “But the police protect us in the rain without complaint, so we can support them while it’s raining.”

Bedsole said community support was instantaneous once they posted about the event on social media. She said Thompson football players and members of the Alabaster Teen Council volunteered to help collect donations and direct traffic in the parking lot. Local religious leaders volunteered their time and prayed with the officers over their meal.

Before dinner began all volunteers and officers took a moment of silence for all the officers who lost their lives in the Dallas shootings.

Along with volunteer help, Kielbasa said the outpouring of donations was “far beyond any expectations.” She said an anonymous donor contacted her and Bedsole and covered the cost of food for all of the officers and their families. She said all the additional donations will help buy gift cards for officers who were not able to make it to the dinner, and the rest will be given to the department.

Frios Gourmet Pops of Alabaster set up their truck to sell pops to the supporters gathered outside of Buck Creek Pizza, and the owner Lori Weidenbach said all the proceeds they made would be donated to the APD.

“We’re so proud to be a part of this community and give back in any way we can,” Weidenbach said. “Thank you to all of the police officers for all you do.”

Bedsole and Kielbasa said she they are thankful for all the support they received in a short amount of time.

“Alabaster shows up,” Bedsole said. “It’s hard not to cry.”