Pictured from left to right are West Deptford Police Chief Samuel DiSimone III, Timeshare Legal LLC owner Christian Highlander and Cpl. John Craig, president of the West Deptford Police Athletic League. Highlander on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, donated $30,000 toward the departments youth outreach programs. (Courtesy of the West Deptford Police Department)
WEST DEPTFORD TWP. — The West Deptford Police Department will have six times their normal budget for its youth outreach programs, including D.A.R.E. and its Police Athletic League (PAL), thanks to a single, $30,000 donation from a local business.
Christian Highlander, owner of Timeshare Legal LLC, located on Grove Road, wrote out the $30,000 check on Friday after meeting with West Deptford Chief Sam DiSimone and Cpl. John Craig, president of the township PAL. According to Sgt. John Chambers, Highlander reached out to the department after seeing flyer the police department had mailed to all local businesses asking for donations.
“Our PAL includes all of the ways we connect with the youth in our community, and funds the D.A.R.E program, the junior academy, the fishing trip held every year and the explorers program we plan to create here,” said Chambers on Monday. “We sent out a mass mailing to all of the businesses registered in West Deptford, in hopes of getting, at most, a couple thousand dollars in donations.
“All I can say is that we’re floored,” Chambers added. “We’ve just been overwhelmed with the support received from the community.”
According to the sergeant, the police department receives about $5,000 annually from the funds provided to West Deptford from the countywide Municipal Alliance — $4,000 specifically for D.A.R.E. and another $980 for other PAL activities. While that amount has typically been supplemented by private donations, this was the first year the department had formally sought extra funds with a formal letter to businesses.
Highlander on Monday said he was moved to donate after being “shocked” to learn about the current dearth of funding for the programs.
“I wasn’t aware there was a lack of funding — I figured all that stuff was taken care of,” he said. “I was shocked to find out that it was just $4,000 per year for all the drug awareness work that D.A.R.E. was doing, and that they were leaning on businesses for help.”
He later added: “We also donated because it’s Thanksgiving and we’re in a good mood.”
Timeshare Legal LLC, which employs about 40 people in West Deptford, helps clients cancel contracts for time share properties they no longer wish to maintain, according to Highlander.
While the business is by no means one of the larger companies in the township, Highlander said the sizable donation to the police was well within its means.
“We’ve done very well,” he said. “One of the things about not being a huge company, is that we’re family owned and don’t have to answer to shareholders.
“This was a great opportunity to give back to the community.”
Highlander’s $30,000 check is the second major contribution the township community has made toward the police department this month. Two weeks ago, police announced that members of the community had raised more than $12,000 in little more than 24 hours toward the cost of veterinary care retired K-9 Judge.
As many as 130 people donated to the online fundraiser during that time.
Earlier this year, the West Deptford police have benefitted from the donation of a newK-9 vehicle from the owners of RiverWinds Restaurant, as well as $2,000 from energy company NuStar toward the creation of the department’s junior academy and a new website courtesy of Fronza Media.
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