9-year-old Tyler Carach is on a mission to buy a doughnut for every police officer in the country. Produced by Joe Lamberti
BUENA VISTA - Nine-year-old Tyler "Donut Boy" Carach delivered treats of sugar and spice with a message of goodwill Thursday morning to troopers and visitors at the New Jersey State Police Troop A station in Buena Vista.
The boy's mother arrived bearing boxes and boxes of doughnuts from a Hammonton Dunkin’ Donuts, a gift that the Florida family went on to repeat later in the day with Hamilton, Galloway and Egg Harbor police as well as another state police station in Galloway.
“This is beyond words that this little boy is just taking it upon himself to come out and show appreciation for law enforcement in a climate that has no love for us,” Trooper Tochi Nkwodimmah said.
Sgt. Charles Faisst, a trooper for 12 years and a former Northfield police officer, said a kind gesture means a lot these days.
“It’s good to feel appreciated in any line of work, but especially in our line of work where a lot of us sign up to make a difference,” Faisst said. “Whenever you ask somebody, ‘Why do you want to be a police officer,’ it’s to `make a difference.’ It’s good to feel appreciated and it’s good to interact with a young kid like that who takes the time out of his life with his family to let us know about that.”
Tyler, who started these visits in his hometown, has now made stops like this in 15 states — all in the past year. The count will hit 16 states when the family moves on to Maryland after the New Jersey visits.
His goal is to cover as much of the country as possible just to say thanks with something good to eat. A tall order, but he already has been to both coasts in 12 months and has been as far north as the Canadian border. The family hit the road on June 26 for this summer's visits.
“My mom was a cop,” Tyler said. “And they had a giant closet full of doughnuts.”
Since Aug. 1, 2016, the family has traveled and often slept in their Dodge Ram 1500 while delivering more than 22,000 doughnuts to law enforcement stations around the country.
For his stops, Tyler dons a cape that his grandmother made with the motto: "I donut need a reason to thank a cop."
"We just thought it’d be cool for him to have something when it first started doughnut-wise," Sheena Carach said. "I didn’t want something typical, so I went with the doughnut cape because cops are his heroes. So, I was like, ‘He could be a little hero, too.’ Everybody loves the cape and it became his signature thing."
Tyler, his mother, and older siblings Naudia and Zach will head home to Bratt, Fla., after their stop in Maryland.
Sheena Carach said her husband Jacob, a welder, stayed home to work. “Somebody has to make a paycheck,” she said.
Sheena Carach, who was a police officer in Virginia, said the outreach started in Bratt’s only store one day last year. They had stopped in and her son noticed four deputies.
“And he said, ‘You know, cops favorite drink is coffee and their favorite food is doughnuts, right,’ ” Carach said. “Of course, we laughed. And then he asked me if he could use his allowance money to buy them mini-doughnuts to thank them for their service. And I said, ‘Of course, you can.’
“When we left, he was asking me why the cops were so excited over a snack because he gets snacks all the time,” she said. “So, in his mind, it was no big deal. … So I explained to him also that a lot of cops have been under attack lately and that people were purposely trying to hurt (them). He said, 'OK. Well, I’m going to thank every cop in America and buy them all a doughnut.’ I was like, ‘You’re going to do what?’ ”
The travel costs are largely absorbed by the family, with some relief from staying with friends and relatives.
Sheena Carach said the signature doughnuts often are donated by shops or manufacturers. ARF Corp., a Gibbsboro-based company that owns two dozen Dunkin’ Donuts locations in South Jersey, gave the family 100 dozen doughnuts.
“I think a lot of people put values on a wall, right?” said Brian Murphy, operations director for ARF Corp. “And I think, for us, we’re more than just putting things on the wall. We actually put things into action. We do Coffee with A Cop in most of the townships we’re in — 30 different communities. It’s something close, near and dear, to us.”
The Carachs spent Wednesday night in Mays Landing at the home of Madeline Neumann, the widow of an Essex County police officer. Neumann was their driver for Thursday's deliveries. She and the Carachs met in May at National Police Week in Washington, D.C.
“I told her she’s like a rock band,” Neumann said. “They go on tour. They’ve got all these stops. As a line of duty survivor, and especially with today’s climate with law enforcement, it’s so nice and rewarding to see a young man just appreciate law enforcement so much that he wants to spend, and his mother, so much time and energy showing support and spreading awareness."
By sheer coincidence, the visits on Thursday had extra meaning for Neumann. Her husband Keith was killed on Aug. 3, 1989 when his SWAT team carried out a drug raid, and for Thursday’s ride she wore a memorial T-shirt.
“She (Sheena) said this was the day she wanted to drive around,” Neumann said. “And I thought, there’s nothing more I’d rather do today than support law enforcement. That’s why I wore the shirt. I said today’s the day. How odd is that?”
Sheena Carach said the family recently started a GoFundMe account for a trip in the fall. The family is switching to home schooling their children, she said.
“So we’ll be doing a lot more throughout the school year,” she said. “Last year, we did like a couple events a month where we pulled him out and went and did events and came back. So we’ll be on the road a lot this year, God willing.”
Joseph P. Smith; (856) 563-5252; firstname.lastname@example.org