Churches, dealership unite to provide new DARE car
It's not common to hear a pastor talk about a "tricked out, sweet ride," but what happened this week isn't exactly common either.
Through a partnership between the city, Bless Hastings, and Hastings Ford Lincoln Mercury, the police department has a brand new DARE vehicle.
The 2008 Dodge Magnum was donated to the city by the dealership and Bless Hastings, a charitable group made up of eight local churches.
It all started when police officer Tim Connell began talking to Hastings Ford owner Doug Erickson about getting a new DARE vehicle.
"It became much more than a car with a sticker on it when I started talking with Doug," Connell said.
Erickson knew about Bless Hastings through his church and thought the DARE vehicle would be another good way for the group to get involved in helping the community.
Erickson and Connell's conversations grew into a meeting with the Bless Hastings group, the city got involved, and the finished product was shown off Tuesday morning at Hastings Ford.
The car is silver with black rims. There's detailing down the sides of it, and a big DARE logo on the front. The rear windows sport decals of the Bless Hastings logo, Hastings Ford's logo, and in silver letters, "Hastings Police Department," all under the words "In partnership with."
"That tells the story right there," Pastor Paris Pasch from Christ's Family Church said.
Pasch is half-kidding, half-serious when he talks about the churches finally being associated with something "cool," but genuinely hopes the car can help build bridges between young people and the DARE program.
"We asked for something that captures the eyes and minds of young people, and I think (the car) does that," he said.
"The kids are going to love it and know their church had something to do with it," Connell said.
Mayor Paul Hicks said that for a group like Bless Hastings and a business like Hastings Ford to get together to make such a large donation in the current economy is symbolic of the strength of the Hastings community.
"To have something like this today, it's just outstanding," he said. "It's what makes Hastings special."
Before sending the officers and the new vehicle on their way, the pastors that gathered at Hastings Ford Tuesday morning blessed them in prayer.
Connell will likely be the officer behind the wheel of the car at most times. It will be used at community events and in DARE programs.
"It's got to be the coolest DARE car in the state Minnesota," he said. "I'm just the lucky one who gets to drive it around."