The Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Fund presented the Urbana Police Division with a donation to benefit the Safety Town program Thursday.
The peace fund donated $1,707 to the annual program that started in 2012. Safety Town is held at Melvin Miller Park during the summer and educates young children about safety issues such as Stranger Danger, pool safety, fire safety, bus safety and calling 911.
Multiple local agencies help police provide hands-on experience for the children, including the Urbana Fire Division and CareFlight. According to Urbana Police, 66 children participated in the program this summer.
Alicia Titus was killed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Titus was a flight attendant on United Airline Flight 175, which crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.
The peace fund was started in 2002 by her parents, John and Bev Titus, in memory of Alicia Titus.
Mrs. Titus said the donation is giving back to the city, police division and Urbana Fire Division for their help.
“The last five years they’ve been instrumental in helping us with the Alicia Titus Memorial Peace run,” she said. “For almost 15 years the community and everyone in the city has been so supportive of us and helping us with our journey since Alicia was killed on September 11th and so we just wanted to give back in some way.”
Mrs. Titus said 20 percent of donations the fund received this year went toward the donation to Safety Town.
“People knew we weren’t having the run this year but there’s just so much support and I think that the majority of people really do want to create a culture of peace where they live,” Mrs. Titus said. “The more connections that we can make and help build that then the better off we’re going to be.”
Mr. Titus said the efforts and sacrifice of first responders made on Sept. 11, 2001, is foremost on their minds when they think of what police and fire departments go through in the community.
“That to me is one of the things that motivates me to want to support them more and do more of whatever we can,” Mr. Titus said.
“I think it’s important to show our appreciation to everyone that does put their life on the line to keep us safe every day,” Mrs. Titus said. “So many times you hear about all of the negative things that are happening rather than the good things. There’s so much more good that our first responders do that we don’t get to hear very often.”
Urbana Police Lt. Seth King said funding for Safety Town has usually come from the police trust fund.
“It’s a generous gift from the Alicia Titus fund,” King said of the donation. “I think it helps us make some of these practical repairs to Safety Town.”
Officer Jason Kizer said some of the improvements the program needs include newer tricycles and addressing wear on the asphalt where Safety Town is located.
With the program being aimed at children headed toward kindergarten, King said the program is great for children to get acclimated with being safe when they travel to school.
Officer Todd Pratt said police want to continue expanding the program, which he says builds trust in police from children. Mr. Titus stated this trust is important.
“In this day and age with the police and the community and what’s going on in our country, to build those relationships with kids is so important for police and fire departments,” Mr. Titus said.