A boy whose mission is to show appreciation of law enforcement officers across the nation visited Aiken on Tuesday.
Krispy Kreme on Whiskey Road provided the dozens of doughnuts that Tyler Carach, 11, gave away in the parking lot of the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Hampton Avenue.
In addition to sheriff’s deputies, there were officers from the Aiken Department of Public Safety and Aiken County Code Enforcement there a little after 10 a.m.
“I think the Solicitor’s Office is on the way,” said Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt. “There will probably be a total of 80 or 90 people here before it is over with.”
Tyler, who lives in the Florida Panhandle community of Bratt, traveled to Aiken with his mother, Sheena.
“I want to remind police officers that people still care, and I want to thank them for their service,” said Tyler, who wore a colorful cape with images of doughnuts printed on it.
Known as “The Donut Boy," Tyler began his effort in the summer of 2016.
“He met four police officers at a local store, and he bought them mini doughnuts with some of his money to say thank you,” Sheena said. “When he left, he was asking me a lot of questions.
“I told him that unfortunately a lot of people judge a whole by a few,” she continued. “And because they do that sometimes, they’re not very kind to the police and have even purposely hurt and killed police for no other reason than that they were cops.
“That made Tyler really sad, and he looked at me and was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to thank every cop in America and buy them all a doughnut.’ so here we are today,” Sheena concluded.
There also are other reasons why Tyler wants to show his gratitude to law enforcement.
“I have two uncles who are police officers, and my mother used to be a police officer,” he said. “I like meeting police officers and seeing what they do. They’re nice, and they’re funny. Many of them joke around a lot.”
Tyler has journeyed to 48 states to spread goodwill and hand out doughnuts. The only ones he hasn’t been to are Mississippi and Hawaii.
“Sometimes businesses sponsor or discount the doughnuts, and sometimes we buy them with our own money,” Tyler said.
He also has raised funds by doing chores for neighbors and scrapping metal.
“His father and I very much believe that if this is something he wants to do, he needs to invest in it and not just have us handing him things for it,” Sheena said.
So far, Tyler has delivered approximately 90,000 doughnuts to law enforcement representatives, and he’s not planning to stop anytime soon.
“When I make it to all 50 states, I’m going to keep doing my program,” said Tyler, who also gave out insulated beverage containers and cards, in addition to doughnuts, while in Aiken.
His effort is known officially as "I DONUT need a reason to thank a cop."
“It recently became a nonprofit,” Sheena said. “We have fundraisers that are going on right now like a raffle and a T-shirt sale.”
Hunt called Tyler a role model.
“We appreciate him,” Hunt said.
Department of Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco was also grateful.
“This is great,” he said. “To see the support of law enforcement officers is refreshing.”
Lt. Daymon Spann of the Department of Public Safety used the words “pretty awesome” to describe the local doughnut giveaway.
“We don’t get this kind of respect very much, especially from the younger generation,” Spann said. “There is so much that they see on television and social media, the negative impacts of things. They never get to see the positive stuff. To meet someone with this much passion – who wants to come around and talk to all of us and say thank you – is fantastic. It’s kind of a once-in-a-career thing that some of us will see.”
When he grows up, Tyler wants to be a K-9 police officer.
“He loves dogs,” Sheena said.
Barranco presented a backpack with some small law enforcement-related gifts inside to Tyler.
In addition, Tyler met tracking and drug detection dogs.
He also was scheduled to tour the Sheriff’s Office headquarters and receive more souvenirs of his visit after the doughnut distribution.
For more information, visit idonutneedareasontothankacop.com or the I DONUT need a reason to thank a cop page on Facebook.
Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @DBethBiles.