Fort Wayne Police Department Patrolman Todd Hughes sat in the F.O.P.A. Lodge Hall, his pancake plate wiped clean except for an oozing puddle of warm maple syrup.
Having just gotten off his second-shift patrol, Hughes was one of the many police officers and members of the public who took advantage of the local F.O.P.A. (Fraternal Order of Police) Lodge #6’s Pancake and Sausage Breakfast on the morning of March 9.
Held once a year every spring for about the last 14 years at the lodge building at 2125 Olladale Drive, the breakfast is open to members of the F.O.P.A. Lodge, and the public.
An entry fee of $5 ($3 for children ages 3-12; children under three for free) was all that was required to partake of all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausage, coffee, juice and milk.
All food served was supplied by Bob Evans restaurant, said Past Lodge President Don Tinkham, although the lodge supplied the morning’s beverages, he said.
Lasting from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., the meal has been known to attract up to 400 people some years, raising more than $2,000 for the lodge, Tinkham said. About 20 volunteers – most of them F.O.P.A. members – work the event, dishing out vittles and making sure the long lines run smoothly.
Money raised at the event supports a wide range of programs sponsored by the F.O.P.A., including its Sundaes with Santa, when kids can come to the lodge and enjoy ice cream with Santa Claus; the Cops4Kids program, where an officer will go Christmas shopping with a disadvantaged child to make sure they receive a Christmas gift; the lodge’s Easter Egg Hunt, where children come to the lodge and hunt for candy-filled eggs on its property, as well as visit with the Easter Bunny; and the Forgotten Families program, which gives assistance to police families going through disasters, or simply financial hardships.
Lodge President Rebekah Heingartner noted the event was not just good for raising money and for the police and public’s hungry morning bellies, but for reaching out to the community as well.
“It gets people involved in what we do,” said Heingartner, a 27-year-old credit union branch manager. “It showcases the things we do, and it helps our members be more involved with the public.”
“A lot of the general public don’t know what we do,” added Tinkham a 67-year-old retired wholesale distributor, “and this is a chance to show them. Plus, it gets the public involved, and our members more involved in the community.”
Sitting at a long picnic table with his neatly-pressed blue uniform, Hughes — a 17-year veteran of the Fort Wayne Police Department — was just happy to be able to support the lodge, while also getting a hearty breakfast.
“I like supporting the F.O.P.A. and what they do,” Hughes said, “it’s good for our fellowship. And it’s good food.”