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Hallelujah Harvest raises $2,300 for sheriff deputy bullet-resistant vests
Hallelujah Harvest raises $2,300 for sheriff deputy bullet-resistant vests

Local dentist Paul Reznicek won the adult costume contest for his depiction of Moses with the Ten Commandments and a burning bush at Grace Covenant Church.
BUCKHORN, Mo. (Nov. 7, 2009) — A Halloween alternative party at Grace Covenant Church of Buckhorn has raised $2,300 for bullet-resistant vests and other equipment in the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff J.B. King, who is a Southern Baptist, said he and his deputies greatly appreciate the help from the independent charismatic church.

“It’s been a godsend,” King said. “During the past four years, this has amounted to a very healthy amount of money. We placed this donation into our equipment fund and it has helped us buy all kinds of equipment for our vehicles; for the officers, we have bought bullet-resistant vests.”

That amount raised this year by the Oct. 31 “Hallelujah Harvest” is somewhat less than the average of $3,000 that has been raised in recent years by the event, but Pastor Judi Tillett said lower attendance at her church’s event is mostly due to an increase in the number of similar events being hosted by other area churches and organizations.

“There were so many places to choose from, both churches and other events,” Tillett said. “When we started this 23 years ago we were the only ones doing this, but we are glad now that everyone is doing something for children and that is a positive thing.”

Many children and some adults came to the Grace Covenant Hallelujah Harvest dressed in costumes reflecting the church’s theme this year of Noah’s Ark, though any Bible-themed costume was encouraged. The adult winner, local dentist Paul Reznicek, came to the church dressed as Moses with a burning bush, and also decorated his car trunk as the Ark of the Covenant with two tables of the Ten Commandments written in archaic Hebrew script.

Reznicek, who has attended the church for two years, said he wasn’t expecting to win the costume contest but was glad to participate.

“The church asked people to dress up as Bible characters or as a Noah’s Ark theme,” Reznicek said. “I built the bush, put the Ten Commandments in the back of the car, and the put cherubs on it to make it look like the Ark of the Covenant.”

Tillett said most of the children chose to come as animals from Noah’s Ark, including children’s contest winner Allie Free, 7, of Waynesville, who came dressed as a dove.

The parents paid $4 per child for admission with proceeds donated to the sheriff’s department, but then received hot dogs, popcorn, and other party foods.

“I liked the popcorn the best; it was really good,” Free said.

Some adults came as animals, too, including Rover Comer, the church’s AWANA youth group mascot played by Steve Vinson, a retired Army sergeant first class who has been attending the church since his time on active duty at Fort Leonard Wood.

“The whole point behind the Hallelujah Harvest is to provide a safe opportunity for children,” Vinson said. “This has been my church home for seven years. We are taught here the Word of God as taught by the Bible.”

King said he appreciates the effort by the church to provide a safe place to keep children off the streets, but is especially appreciative of the efforts to help his department buy bullet-resistant vests. Two of his deputies have been shot in the last five years, and while both suffered injuries, their vests likely saved their lives. Both of those deputies were wearing vests obtained through other donation programs, but many other deputies are wearing vests purchased through the church’s contributions.

“I am not looking forward to the day that one of those officers takes a round, but they have the protection courtesy of this church and that is a very big deal,” King said. “In the last three years we have had two officers shot and critically wounded and every officer I have that works on a regular basis has a vest, and the vast majority of the officers wear their vests religiously ... I yell at the guys for not wearing one and if they catch me not wearing one, they yell right back.”

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