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Sheriff smooches a cow
Culpeper sheriff wins challenge in fundraiser

 With a crowd looking on, Culpeper County Sheriff Jim Branch kisses Penny during the fundraiser for his office's D.A.R.E. program.
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Date published: 8/15/2010


Culpeper County Sheriff Jim Branch Jr. won a fundraising challenge against Culpeper Police Department interim Chief Chris Jenkins.

So what was Branch's prize?

He got to kiss Penny, a Holstein cow, Thursday evening at the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Culpeper at a spirit night fundraiser for the department's Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.

Branch's department had put collection boxes around the town and the county to bring in money for the program.

Each box had a photo of either Branch or Jenkins.

Whoever had boxes with the most money won got to kiss Penny, who was volunteered for the promotion by Fauquier County residents Becky Mullins and her family.

"Obviously I knew going into this that I had a 1-in-2 chance of kissing that cow," Branch said Thursday evening. "But at the end of the day, it's for a good cause. I'm just thankful that people donated. I know times are tight."

On Thursday evening, dozens of people turned out at the Chick-fil-A location to buy dinner.

A percentage of those dinner proceeds, along with the money contributed in the boxes. goes to D.A.R.E.

As of Thursday, about $500 had been raised.

Culpeper County Deputy Ana Brown said the program is always looking for ways to raise money.

The challenge pitting the sheriff against the interim police chief was a great opportunity.

"The sheriff and Chief Jenkins were fully willing to participate," she said. "They had no hesitation and jumped right in."

As far as the Sheriff's Office is concerned, the weeks of collecting donations and the spirit night Thursday paid off.

The kiss-the-cow campaign brought in funds and community support for what the department considers a significant educational program.

Brown was pleased.

"It's all about keeping our kids safe and educated," she said.

D.A.R.E. officers go into county schools and talk with students about the dangers of using drugs, how to avoid violence through conflict resolution, and how to make good choices in their lives.

D.A.R.E. is a cooperative program by the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Education and local law enforcement agencies and school divisions.

In Virginia, D.A.R.E. was initially funded in 1987 by a grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

The state program has curriculum for various age groups in the schools.

Statewide, D.A.R.E. officers have delivered presentations covering various topics including Halloween safety tips, seat belts, child seats and more.