Businesses raising money for police banquet after it was nixed from budget

DULUTH -- When Anna Huthmaker heard that the Duluth Police Department was being forced to forego its annual awards banquet, she decided to do something about it.

The agency, looking for ways to make budget cuts without affecting its service to the community, cancelled its scheduled Dec. 11 ceremony, opting to spend the money on more essential needs.

As owners of Huthmaker Violins, Huthmaker and her parents have been part of Duluth for 15 years. So, she and her mother decided call on the local business community to raise money for an agency that has given so much to them.

"They don't get the recognition they should for what they do," Huthmaker said. "They serve the entire community but I feel like we receive special attention. They patrol our businesses ... when alarms go off in the middle of the night, they're there.

"It occurred to us that anytime the police ask for a charitable donation, it is always for someone else," Huthmaker said. "Kids, schools, local shelters; they never ask for anything for themselves."

After calling the department and getting the green light to raise money, Huthmaker went to work, e-mailing roughly 50 businesses asking for donations.

Only a few of those business owners responded, she said, but the ones who did have given nearly enough money to allow the banquet, which has been rescheduled, to go on.

Duluth police Maj. Don Woodruff said having to cancel the banquet was a "little disheartening." In his 21 years with the department, he said, this would have been the first year its employees would not have been formally recognized for their outstanding service.

For the "rank and file" officers, Woodruff said, the ones who come when they're called and direct traffic in the pouring rain, a plaque, pat on the back and a "job well done" go a long way.

"We really, sincerely appreciate what everybody has done," Woodruff said. "The support from the business community and citizens ... we exist for them so we can help them. We appreciate them for appreciating us."

Huthmaker said anyone wishing to donate can e-mail her at fiddlefolk@aol.com.