Local business owners and city officials raised more than $15,000 during a block party for Friday evening in downtown Kissimmee for the families of two slain police officers.
Residents were invited to support the families of Kissimmee police Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard, who were laid to rest Thursday.
The benefit, which began at 7 p.m., will be centered at 3 Sisters Speakeasy at Broadway and East Dakin Avenue. The road was closed at 6 p.m.
The event featured musical performances, vendors and remarks by local officials. No less than 20 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the fallen officers' families.
A barbecue fundraiser was held in downtown Friday.
When volunteer Oscar Shipley came up with the idea to host a barbecue, he contacted Vinny Barber, who owns Jimmy Bear's BBQ in St. Cloud.
The men initially intended to only serve meals to police officers, but they decided to extend their offer to others in the community.
Volunteers are being trained to handle the possible long lines outside KPD for today's free BBQ at 11 am pic.twitter.com/Ius1Ybn7re— Ty Russell (@TRussellWFTV) August 25, 2017
"Any money that's collected today will be a 100 percent donation to the families," Shipley said.
A team of pitmasters smoked enough meat for 2,000 free meals.
Barber said he looks forward to watching residents thank police officers for their service to the community.
"If possible, instead of spending their lunch money somewhere else, they'll give their money to the families," Barber said.
I'm hungry 😋 pic.twitter.com/HQLT2LHSLI— Ty Russell (@TRussellWFTV) August 25, 2017
Event organizers said Friday evening's block party will serve as both a fundraiser and an opportunity for the community to continue healing.
Dozens gathered Thursday evening in downtown for a candlelight vigil.
"It's hard, but we'll get through it," resident Xiomara Lisboa said. "We've gone through things before and we'll get through this as well."
Downtown business owners have hung blue ribbons and installed blue lights to show their support for law enforcement officers.
"I believe that this is the beginning of what we have always wanted -- to unify our community and win back our streets to the decent people of this county," Osceola County Sheriff's Office Chaplain Daniel Rivera said.
City officials have opened an account for the families of the fallen officers. Donations may be made at any SunTrust Bank location.
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