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When Cpl. Todd Coring drives by in his night black SUV—silver rims gleaming, red letters emblazoned across the side—it’s hard to miss him.
But that’s the way he wants it.
Coring is Brunswick County’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer for the county’s nine elementary schools, and he says his SUV is “catching a lot of eyes.”
The SUV is a way to promote the D.A.R.E. program. Coring says he wants students, parents and anyone interested to ask about D.A.R.E.. Coring travels to the county’s elementary schools to teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum to fifth-graders. The curriculum is focused on drug prevention and decision-making skills.
“I believe prevention through education is a strong tool,” he said.
D.A.R.E. teaches students about the three gateway drugs—cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana—and recently added a two-part lesson about gangs, and a lesson on prescription drug abuse.
The SUV, Coring says, is a way to engage students to show them officers are there to help, not hurt, the students.
“They ask if we can have class in the truck,” he said. “And they always ask to go four-wheeling in it.”
Coring, who has been the county’s D.A.R.E. officer for nearly eight years, was named North Carolina D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year in 2006.
At a recent statewide D.A.R.E. conference, Coring was voted in as vice-president for the state D.A.R.E. association.
And thanks to some local business owners, Coring’s SUV placed first in the statewide competition for D.A.R.E. vehicles.
Coring’s SUV has won awards before, but with its recent overhaul, he hopes to take it to the national D.A.R.E. conference this summer in San Antonio, Texas.
“Hopefully we’ll do well at the national level,” he said.
When Coring was ready to spice up his SUV, local business owners jumped on board.
Coring contacted Jerome Munna, owner of the Sign Shoppe in Supply, and Munna said he was happy to help.
Munna called some local business owners to help pay for new rims, logos and decals and a new grill.
Bridget Holder, at the Sign Shoppe, designed the graphics for the SUV, Munna said.
“The first five people I asked were the only five I had to ask,” Munna said. “This is a very supportive community.”
Kimberly Cheers Gales, of Nationwide Insurance, said she pitched in because her children have flourished in Coring’s D.A.R.E. program.
“They feel comfortable. They can come home and share what they learned,” she said.
Brunswick County D.A.R.E.
Coring was selected as Brunswick County’s D.A.R.E. officer in 2001 by a fellow North Carolina D.A.R.E. Officer of Year, Sheriff Ronald Hewett.
Hewett, who went on to be named the National D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year in 1993, said he selected Coring for his “ability to deal with the public, his love for children and his integrity.”
To be certified as a D.A.R.E. officer, Coring had to participate in an intensive two-week training course. Hewett, who is a former course instructor, said some officers don’t make it through training.
“It’s a tremendous amount of time and late nights preparing lesson plans,” he said.
While Coring shies away from talking about his accolades, Hewett is eager to share Coring’s accomplishments.
Coring received a medal of valor from the town of Southport and the fire department for his role in a ship fire headed for Sunny Point Military terminal, Hewett said.
“His integrity is impeccable,” he added. “I have the highest respect for him and consider it an honor to have him as part of our team.”
But for Coring, he says he is just doing his job.
“I’m just here for the kids,” he said.
Caroline Curran is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org