Volunteers Sell Shirts to Benefit Fallen Officer's Family

When a Grand Prairie police officer was killed in the line of duty earlier this month, he left behind an 11-year-old with special needs.

Monday, volunteers spread out across six Chick-fil-A restaurant locations to sell t-shirts to benefit the officer's family. The six restaurants also pledged 20 percent of all food sales from 5-9 p.m.

Officer A.J. Castaneda was killed by another driver while running radar on June 7.

"They are out here on their own time, in the hot sun working to help our department, we can never really thank them enough," said Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye.

"Officer Castaneda had a special needs son and this will really help with his medical bills that he will have for the rest of his life," he added. "This just ensures one thing the family won't have to worry about is the financial need."

"My husband's been in law enforcement for over 30 years, so I know the toll it takes on a family," said Sherri Aaron - who mobilized the fundraising effort.

Aaron is the wife of the Mansfield Police Chief and has launched fundraising campaigns for the families of the officers killed in the 2016 ambush on police in Dallas, Officers Matt Pearce and Garrett Hull in Fort Worth and Detective Jerry Walker of Little Elm.

"It helps my heart to be able to do this for them," she said.

Monday, Aaron and volunteers sold t-shirts in memory of Officer Castaneda. Each shirt costs $5 to make. Aaron charges $10 and says every penny of the profit benefits the family of the officer.

The shirts are also sold online.

"Our hope is to sell thousands of t-shirts for the family," said Aaron.

"The family, they live in this community, so they can see his name when they go to the grocery store, when they go out to eat," she added. "It really helps them to remember that we will not forget about him."

LaShunda Montgomery pulled into the parking lot when she heard about the fundraiser. Montgomery bought ten shirts to give to family and friends. She says she wanted to show gratitude to the officer who died in the line of duty and other officers who build relationships in the community.

"Whether it's from them coming and helping with a flat or a wreck, or helping somebody else, I've been there, I've seen that," Montgomery explained.

"I know no matter what, when somebody passes this doesn't bring them back, but it helps," Montgomery continued. "I figure if this will help, why not?"

Others who showed up to buy shirts said they were looking for an opportunity to help the officer's family.

"His family is missing him. I wanted to make sure we show the support to his family," said Rebecca Stephenson.

"I wanted to support his family because it's tragic what happened and what they're going through," said Lisset Jimenez who heard about the fundraiser while visiting her mom in Grand Prairie.

Aaron says many who came to buy shirts had personal stories about interacting with Officer Castaneda.

"We had people come buying these shirts and telling stories of A.J. He would go out for a call and he would be compassionate and caring he would follow up with them," said Aaron.

"If we could all be a little bit like A.J., this world would be a different place."

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