25 years after children's shelter helped him, cop organizes fundraiser

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - This Friday the Chapin Police Department will host the first ever 'Cops for Kids' fundraiser for the Palmetto Place Children's Shelter. It is being organized by an officer who spent time at the emergency shelter 25 years ago.

The shelter is a group home for abused, neglected and homeless children, a story that is all too familiar for Chapin Police Captain Ray Craig.

From officer to captain, he's worked his way up through the ranks at the department, and his time and work in the community often puts him face-to-face with some of the hardest cases.

"We work with a lot of juveniles that are homeless and some that are in abusive situations," said Captain Craig. It's in those situations that he calls on one thing that's more personal than training- his past.

"There's a good chance I would have been homeless, a very good chance," said Craig. Craig's father died when he was 15 and shortly after he says his family fell apart.  He says the Department of Social Services placed him at Palmetto Place Children's Shelter.

"They provide a stable home environment for [abused, neglected and homeless] children, until they can find some type of foster care or even adoption," said Craig.

The shelter's location is kept secret to protect children who are placed there, but since opening in 1977 the non-profit has served more than 6,000 Midlands kids and teens.

"The children would have nothing else," said Captain Craig. "There are a lot of homeless people out there, and a lot of them are children that you don't hear about. This is an avenue for those children to have a loving place to go."

More than 25 years after his time there, Captain Craig now has two children of his own.

"I'd like to instill some of the same value and strengths that I learned not only from Palmetto Place, but from law enforcement into my children hopefully make them better people," said Craig.

Captain Craig organized the Cops for Kids fundraiser and will join other police officers to raise money for Palmetto Place. The event will happen from 6-8pm at Vella's of Chapin on Chapin Road.

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