ADVANCE,Ind. – A town marshal, in Advance, famous for his “Pop-Tart” policing method is now taking another step to help community children.
Brad Thomas gained praise last year for his morning routine of standing at the town’s bus stop and handing out Pop-Tarts to children as they got on the school bus. At the time, Thomas said his goal was to create a relationship with the kids and establish himself as a resource for whatever they may need.
In February, Thomas took his mission to the next level. Using an influx of public support, Thomas helped to establish We All Matter, an after school program for the kids elementary through high school.
The program meets every Monday and Wednesday and is run by Thomas and more than a dozen volunteers and program officials. During their sessions, the WAM staff helps the kids with their homework, provide one on one tutoring, provide the children a meal and allow them a block of “free time.”
“Everybody wants to be a part of something positive. So, I think all of the kids and everybody feels positive about that,” Thomas said.
WAM’s entire operation is essentially fueled by donations and grants secured through organizations like The Community Foundation of Boone County. Thomas credits the support of local churches and businesses for WAM’s success.
“We just have a group of people that want to be a part of something,” he said.
WAM employs the help of more than a dozen volunteers. One of those volunteers is Linda Randle, a former teacher with 35 years in the classroom. On her own time, Randle visits each school district to check in with the teachers of WAM students as a way to monitor their performance in the classroom.
“This is an overall effort. This is school, this is community, these are churches in the community, I mean this is just awesome,” Randle said.
Thomas says WAM was a dream that was years in the making. He added that long-term he hopes WAM’s impact and legacy continue throughout the entire Advance community.
“ I hope they say that they want their children to come here, and that these kids grow up and have children that they want to stay in advance, and they want their kids to be a part of this too,” Thomas said.