The Fest For Vest Foundation, a Louisiana nonprofit dedicated to keeping police officers safe, held a fundraising event March 13 in Jackson for East Feliciana Parish law enforcement.
The event raised $10,000, enough for 33 bulletproof vests, and featured a silent auction, music, door prizes, games, a petting zoo, arts and crafts, face painting, a cake walk, food as well as many donations, both monetary and in-kind.
Fest For Vest board members include Elridge Hidalgo, president; Mary Hidalgo, vice president; Melanie Nevels, secretary; and Susan Guillory, treasurer.
The nonprofit was established in 2015 by the Hidalgos, who have long been dedicated to helping law enforcement.
Mary Hidalgo’s son and Elridge Hidalgo’s stepson Mark Beck, an officer with the Baton Rouge Police K-9 Division, died in February 2008 when his patrol car collided with a tractor trailer.
“He saw how much pain I was in over losing Mark, and he vowed to help wherever he could,” Mary Hidalgo said about her husband. “There are a lot of small towns with small police departments that don’t have the funds in their budgets to provide a bulletproof vest for every officer. That’s our goal: to make sure every officer in the state has a vest and to make sure every officer goes home safe.”
Hidalgo said Fest For Vest is a way to help keep Beck’s memory alive and to help other law enforcement officers.
“This keeps us going, knowing we’re helping others in Mark’s memory,” she said.
Prior to starting Fest For Vest, the Hidalgos helped Port Barre and Sunset police departments obtain bulletproof vests.
A year ago, Mary Hidalgo and Guillory organized Law Enforcement Appreciation Day in Jackson and began working to get the Fest For Vest Foundation off the ground.
The foundation will help any parish or police department raise money or spearhead its own event to obtain bulletproof vests or other safety equipment. The next Fest For Vest fundraiser is Aug. 6 in St. Landry Parish.
An account has been established at The Highlands Bank in Jackson for anyone who would like to donate. To learn more, visit festforvest.com, Fest For Vest on Facebook, call (225) 978-3161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.