Salvation Army gets help from reinforcements

Battle of the Badges enriches coffers to help local needy
By: Max Puckett Journal Correspondent
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Auburn’s law enforcement agencies battled to raise funds Thursday for the Auburn Salvation Army. The Battle of the Badges, between the Auburn Police Department, the Auburn-based Placer County Sheriff’s Office and the Auburn area California Highway Patrol, has taken place annually for five years. Each department mans a red Salvation Army kettle at an Auburn shopping center. Major Ralph Jiminez, the corps officer of the Auburn Salvation Army, admits the battle brings in a lot of money. “Last year the event brought in about $10,000,” Jiminez said. “Compare that to $1,800 to $2,500 a day on average.” Some participants, like Julie Renegar, an evidence technician for the Sheriff’s Office, take the friendly competition more seriously than others. “We win every year by a lot,” Renegar said. “The kids love McGruff, the crime dog. Stopping traffic before it can get over to the other entrance where the CHP is helps, too. The APD’s not even on the radar screen.” Rose Parada, of the Sheriff’s human resources department, thinks other factors will help them win the race. “Our horse Pete is the game breaker,” Parada said. “Smiles, hellos, our outfits and just having fun help, too.” Jake Graham, 6, of Auburn, agrees that animals are a game changer. “I shook McGruff’s hand. I liked the horse,” Graham said after depositing money into the Sheriff’s donation can. Sgt. Doug Milligan, of the Auburn area California Highway Patrol, has participated in the fundraiser for the last four years. “We were supposed to start at 10 a.m. but the Sheriff’s started at 8, so we are behind,” said Milligan. Sgt. Jay Van Dyck, also of the Auburn CHP, points out that everybody benefits from the event in the end. “We’ve been getting good donations even though the times are tough,” said Van Dyck. As far as winning the competition goes, Van Dyck describes his strategy: “Ring the bell.” Capt. Bill Donovan, a two-year veteran of the battle, hopes that the arrival of “Chipper” will help spur donations and make up for his opponents jumping the gun. “‘Chipper’ is a chipmunk, our mascot,” Donovan said. “The horses are not going to make it, unfortunately.” Sgt. Mike Garlock of the Auburn Police Department was not riled by the Sheriff’s Office’s spirited comments. “I wish the Sheriff’s Department well,” Garlock said. “This is a great cause. We are on the same side.” Dee Price, an Auburn resident of 40 years, didn’t realize all the cops outside of Bel-Air were gunning for top dollar. “I donated to the CHP,” Price said. “I gave them what cash I had. That’s just the way I entered the store, not a preference over the Sheriff’s Department. I donate to the Salvation Army whenever they are here and whenever I have cash. I often use my debit card so I don’t have the money to donate.” According to Renegar, Battle of the Badges results from 2009 were: Placer County Sheriff’s Office in first place with $3,789.47, the CHP with $2,240.07, followed by the APD with $2,146.28. Jiminez confirmed the Sheriff’s Office was in fact last year’s winner, though he did not have specific numbers.