Special Olympics Florida

Tampa officers serve brunch, collect tips for Special Olympics Florida

Written by:  Elizabeth Fry, FOX 13 News

The Sunday morning brunch rush is nothing unusual for The Brunchery Restaurant in South Tampa. This Sunday, however, the smiling faces behind the menus were wearing badges instead of aprons. 

Officers with the Tampa Police Department spent the morning writing tickets, but this time those tickets resulted in food instead of fines. 

“Serving has been a little challenging, but I got it now,” joked Melanee Gardner, an officer with TPD.

The challenge was all a part of TPD’s Tip-A-Cop event. All the tips the off-duty officers earned during their shift will go to support Special Olympics Florida.

“Special Olympics is very near and dear to my heart,” Gardner said. “So it’s important that the Tampa Police Department supports it, the chief supports it, the command staff supports it, the restaurant owner.  It’s been fantastic.”

For customers walking through the door, the initial confusion was apparent. 

“I saw a bunch of police officers at the hosting booth waiting and I thought they were waiting to be sat, and then one of them took my wife to the table,” said Rory Lawrence, a customer at The Brunchery Restaurant. 

That confusion quickly turned to appreciation. 

“I got my envelope done.  We’re going to have some breakfast and make sure we tip them right,” said Holly Ferguson, a customer who traveled from Valrico to take part in the event.

While the officers said they might not be quitting their day jobs after today’s event, the excitement was palpable as TPD served the community in a whole new way, all for a great cause. 

Thanks to the generous donations of customers, TPD told FOX 13 they raised $1,878 during the event to donate to Special Olympics Florida.