To those settled in or just passing through this town, it’s a slogan that rings true: Hillsborough Rocks.
But these days, you might also see people donning T-shirts with this slogan as a hashtag, and it’s worth noting that the shirts aren’t only expressing something you might feel too, but the sale of them is going toward a good cause – the proceeds are funding summer camps for kids, all thanks to a “mini-viral” Facebook video by Hillsborough Police Department Lt. Andy Simmons.
In February, Simmons took over the community services division with a goal to increase outreach and connectivity on social media, namely, through Facebook and Twitter.
So, Simmons took to the spotlight to put a face to the police department, showing parts of his day, speaking about what is going on at the department, and in one video, featuring an artist painting the Eno Gallery on a canvas, showing in essence, why Hillsborough Rocks.
“I made my first couple of goofy videos and all of a sudden, for some reason in one of the videos, I said, ‘and don’t forget, Hillsborough Rocks,’” Simmons said. “Every video after that, I’ve ended it with that, and it caught on.”
He put this simple saying on a T-Shirt and wore it in one of the next videos, and community connectivity boomed, as the video now sits with over 15,000 views and reaching over 33,000 people – an impressive amount considering Hillsborough is a small town with a population just over 6,000.
After the voracious response, Simmons ordered 455 shirts in “all shapes and sizes,” and is selling them from the Police Department for $12, with the proceeds to send kids to both a basketball and soccer camp this summer, and hopefully, help fund the Junior Police Academy in August.
The cost for one child to attend camp is relatively cheap, somewhere between $10-20, as they try to keep the price as low as possible. But thanks to this, they will be able to potentially expand the amount of children able to attended and at that, for free.
Not only are they funding the sports camps and the academy, Simmons has plans to make these T-shirts in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, with some of the proceeds going to fund part of their annual sponsorship of practical Christmas gifts to 12 senior citizens and providing for one family.
“A lot of places, you have the police and then you have the community, they are separated, but here we don’t have that,” Simmons said. “We have a community and the police are a part of it – we’re community partners. There’s no separation, or an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. It is us and the community, together.”
Simmons plans to keep the connectivity thriving, continuing to post 2-3 videos per week, with his confident and easygoing self capturing the happenings around Hillsborough, giving perspective to policemen and women and their daily work.
“The personality you see in the video, that goofy guy doing the video, that’s actually me, there’s no hamming for the camera, that’s just the person I am,” Simmons said. “Everyone around here knows it, it naturally fits in my skill set because I enjoy getting out there and meeting people and working in the community, but on top of that, I’m able to express myself over social media because I just enjoy that aspect of the job.”
The T-shirts will be on sale at the Police Department until they are sold out.
Oh – and don’t forget, Hillsborough Rocks.