Sweet tribute to wounded officer

Published 9:54 pm Saturday, May 26, 2012

Debbie Evans purchases a lemonade from Virginia Hughes, the daughter of a Suffolk emergency dispatcher, during a bake sale for Officer James Winslow on Saturday morning.

An outpouring of support for a Suffolk police officer injured in the line of duty came in the form of sugar on Saturday.

A group of officers’ wives held a bake sale to benefit Officer James Winslow, who was attacked and severely beaten during a foot chase after a traffic stop on May 19.

Though the event was put together in less than a week, there was no sign of the hasty organization on Saturday morning in the Lowe’s parking lot. Hundreds of baked goods waited to be sold, and hundreds of local residents stopped by to peruse the goodies and pick their favorites. A donation jug filled up quickly with bills, even from people who weren’t purchasing pastries. And the young daughter of a Suffolk dispatcher even operated a lemonade stand.

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“We haven’t been able to stop long enough to count everything,” said Estelita Buie, the wife of a Suffolk officer and one of the organizers. “I got here at 7:30, and there were already people waiting on us to get here.”

The event raised $6,027 for Winslow’s family.

Even though donations were supposed to be cut off Friday night, patrons still came during the sale to drop off pies, cakes, cookies, brownies, tarts and other tasty treats to be sold.

Many of those who did make a purchase didn’t even wait to get their change, Buie said.

“Many paid well over $100 for a cookie or cupcake,” she said.

All of the proceeds will go to a fund to help Officer Winslow, whose condition continues to improve.

His brother, Neil Winslow, was at the sale most of the morning and spent most of his time accepting well wishes from total strangers.

“I would just like to thank the force and Lowe’s and the community for the thoughts and prayers,” he said, adding that his brother is now listed in stable condition.

Buie said the proceeds from the bake sale and other planned fundraisers will help Winslow’s wife spend time with him, rather than working, and focus on his recovery.

“We just want to try to raise as much as we can so they can supplement income, pay bills and pay for treatment,” she said.

The sale was the idea of Paula Babor, another officer’s wife, who was talking to Kim Johnson, the wife of yet another officer, when it occurred to her.

“We were just talking on the phone,” she said. “I said, ‘Why don’t we do a bake sale on Saturday?’ I think it’s turned out good.”

Buie said Lowe’s, where Officer Winslow worked before joining the force, had been amazing, allowing the use of their parking lot, new folding tables straight off the shelf and providing balloons, water and other needs.

She added the wives felt compelled to do something for the family, because they understand the sacrifices made by law enforcement officers.

“It’s just our worst nightmare to get that call,” Buie said. “You’re lost. You don’t want to have to worry about your bills.”

Johnson said the group plans to organize formally and include the significant others of all Suffolk officers.

“We figured we really needed to stick together,” she said.

Other fundraisers will be publicized as details are finalized. In the meantime, people can send donations to a fund set up by the Suffolk Police Officers’ Association, Local 780. Donors sending a check should write “Officer James Winslow” in the memo line. Checks should be sent to Monarch Bank, 2999 Corporate Lane, Suffolk, VA 23434, to the attention of Suffolk Police Officers’ Association, in care of Officer James Winslow.