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MINOOKA – Metalstamp Inc. owners, Lee and Kathy Huchinson, and son Ben Huchinson presented a $5,000 check to the Minooka police department’s D.A.R.E. program last week.

Minooka Chief of Police Justin Meyer, Community Policing Officer Denis Tatgenhorst and Minooka Mayor Pat Brennan gratefully accepted the check for the program.

Metalstamp Inc. moved from Channahon to Minooka into its new state-of-the-art, two-story facility on Minooka Road earlier this year.

Lee Huchinson said the village responded with open arms 1½ years ago when it approached Minooka to build the facility.

Tatgenhorst said the company is community-minded and has made donations to Minooka Summerfest and regularly supports the Lions Club.

“We wanted to give back [to Minooka] for their assistance in making our move so easy,” Huchinson said. “[D.A.R.E.] is a program we have to continue to protect our kids.”

The D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistance and Education) program has evolved over the years. It started as a way to teach fifth-grade children the dangers of drug use and abuse. But it has become a great tool for students to learn about healthy choices, resisting drugs and violence, bullying and communication skills, Tatgenhorst said.

It’s about staying positive, being responsible and being respectful, he said.

The program gives students a positive model for dealing with all kinds of choices before they reach junior high and high school, where they are more likely to give in to peer pressure.

D.A.R.E. Officer Denise Byrd helps the students learn how to define a problem, challenge or opportunity. They assess what their choices are and what the consequences could be if a bad choice were made. After they respond to the situation, they look at how they chose to act and evaluate their decision.

“If someone they know is using drugs or smoking, will we bend to the pressure?” Tatgenhorst said. “We have to make the right decisions.”

New communication skills can help the students learn how to talk out differences with others. They learn how to be assertive but respect others’ opinions.

There are also discussions on bullying and information on how to handle it.

“Bullying is a big thing now, whether it’s in person, text or cyberbullying,” Tatgenhorst said.

The Metalstamp donation will be used to pay for program supplies and what Tatgenhorst calls image builders – things such as pencils, erasers, rulers with Presidents’ names on them. They all have the D.A.R.E. logo and are things students can use in school, as well.

Keeping the D.A.R.E. logo out there is important reinforcement for the program, too.

About 500 students in Minooka schools go through the program each year. Many larger police departments have dropped the program because of costs of supplies and having to pull an officer off the streets during class times, Tatgenhorst said.

Meyer said the department appreciates the donation.

“The program can be a little costly, but we have to build a rapport with the kids at a young age,” he said.

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Copyright 2019 D.A.R.E. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2019 D.A.R.E. All Rights Reserved.