By MADDY VITALE
The Ocean City Police Department and PBA Local 61 have joined forces to help out businesses in the community in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Local 61, the police union, will donate $200 every weekday for the next two weeks to a local restaurant to cover $200 worth of takeout/delivery orders that day. It began Monday.
The PBA and OCPD will randomly pick an Ocean City restaurant each day and work with the owners in selecting customers for free meals courtesy of Local 61.
“Thanks to a generous donation from Ocean City PBA Local 61, we will treat some lucky customers to a free meal,” according to Ocean City Police Department’s Facebook page.
The department is seeking photos of the winners as they tag @ocnjpd and follow the department on its Facebook page, Instagram and on Twitter.
Ocean City Police Department Lt. Pat Randles, who is in charge of public information, said of the PBA’s donation and the giveaway, “The OCPD is grateful for the relationships we have with our citizens and local businesses. The successes we have achieved as a department are directly related to the successes of those we serve.”
He explained what the donation means to the police department and the union.
“This project is a way for us to help both the customers and businesses. The hope is the project also reminds everyone to support our local businesses during this time of need,” Randles emphasized. “O.C. PBA 61 shares that same spirit. Their hard work and generosity made this project a success. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
PBA President Rich Wilent, an Ocean City Police Department detective, said his hope is that this is one of many events and giveaways the PBA and the department can do together to help out a community he grew up in during this difficult time.
“The businesses and communities have helped support the PBA. A couple of members came to me, the chief (Jay Prettyman) and Pat (Randles) with this idea and we decided it is only right to help the community that has been so good to us,” Wilent noted. “We are a non-profit. All the money goes back to the community.”
He said the plan is to create other ways to help businesses suffering the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We might go to the restaurants down the road and give them sizable tips,” he said.
Wilent said to start, the PBA and police department will work with about 10 restaurants and may expand it to others down the road.
The union and police department members spoke with some of the restaurants and said they were pleased with the idea of the giveaway to help boost business.
“We are looking at bringing in other restaurants, and also helping the wait staff out,” Wilent said.
He said the PBA is strong and is a key part of the fabric of the tight-knit community of Ocean City.
“The members before us made this union, and it is our job to build on it and continue. This is the stuff we hold dear to us. We watch out for the community,” he said. “This is for them. We want everyone to do as well as possible.”
The meal giveaway is seen as one way to help the community join together during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are hoping to just bridge the gap, get through these hard times and get back to some type of normalcy,” Wilent said.
Anyone seeking donations or who needs assistance from PBA Local 61 during the COVID-19 crisis may reach out to Wilent via email at firstname.lastname@example.org