It started with a donation of 500 rubber ducks.
Monroe Police Department Officer Mike Panza was in the Sandy Hook School office, now located in Monroe’s Chalk Hill Middle School, when the office staff was trying to decide what to do with 500 rubber ducks, according to Monroe Police Department Officer Todd Keeping. Officer Panza told the staff he would take care of the donation, and soon the ducks were bringing smiles to the students.
Officer Keeping said he and Officer Panza started by putting the ducks out on display around the school, mostly in the school’s lobby. Students would walk by, grab one or multiples, and eventually the officers were running out of ducks. The students loved them.
“They just continue to want more of them,” said Officer Keeping. “It’s become this big thing.”
When there were no more rubber ducks, Officer Keeping contacted the Oriental Trading Company, which makes the rubber ducks. He was notified it would cost $450 to order 1,000 new rubber ducks. Officer Keeping found support from his union, which authorized $250 for the cause, and on Facebook, where his friends helped to raise the rest.
The ducks have become so popular, Officer Keeping began a Facebook page called “The Ducks of Sandy Hook Elementary” where he has been posting photos of the ducks at the school and photos of where they have roamed. One photo shows rubber ducks lined up under a “Duck Crossing” sign, other photos show ducks with Louisiana State Troopers, and other photos show the ducks at the Super Bowl.
Officer Keeping accompanied the Sandy Hook School students who performed at the Super Bowl to the event, and brought his yellow rubber friends with him. The ducks brought out smiles from one San Francisco 49ers cheerleader and from the 49ers mascot. One duck was photographed situated on top of a zone marker at the game.
Back at the school, Officer Keeping said he and Officer Panza keep putting the ducks out. About 74 ducks were put out in the school on Wednesday, February 6, alone. The pair, Officer Keeping said, have dedicated themselves to not running out of the ducks. Officer Keeping said supplying the ducks is a simple thing, and if it brings a smile to the students’ faces, they will keep the effort going.
Officer Keeping said anyone interested in helping to fund further supplies of ducks can message him through “The Ducks of Sandy Hook Elementary” Facebook page.
“It brings a smile to their face,” Officer Keeping said.