The Cambria County Drug Coalition is transitioning from a successful September supporting National Recovery Month and the many people living in recovery, to raising awareness through the county’s Red Ribbon Campaign and National DEA Drug Take Back day set in the month of October.

Every October, numerous agencies, businesses and schools take part in the National Red Ribbon Campaign led by Community Action Partnership. The drug coalition supports this work to raise awareness about the dangers of substance misuse, with the goal of keeping our kids and community drug free. 

When the drug coalition formed, its focus was to attack our opioid crisis by assisting law enforcement in decreasing the supply of drugs, supporting treatment for those in need and providing prevention throughout the county in a coordinated way. These October events align with our goals and will have an impact. We encourage citizens throughout the county to participate.

Red Ribbon Week will be celebrated Oct. 23-31. It is a nationally recognized week to support efforts to reduce drug use through youth prevention and education programs. By wearing a red ribbon, you can demonstrate your opposition to illegal drugs and dedication to living drug-free. 

Izabella Ware, a student from Griswold Middle School in Griswold, Connecticut, created the winning theme of the week: “Send a Message. Stay Drug Free.” This is a time for students, parents, educators and community members to spread the message across America. 

Here in Cambria County, the groundwork is set through the collaboration of key supporters to send the message loud and clear.

Red ribbons will be distributed to local schools thanks to many financial sponsors. Each district has scheduled events to engage their students and parents. Red ribbons will be distributed at the Johnstown Halloween Parade – look for the red ribbon banner in the parade. 

CamTran bus drivers will be wearing red ribbons and local police departments will have magnets in place on cruisers to support the campaign. A complete list of events can be found on the drug coalition website at www.cambriacountydrugcoalition.org.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 26, more than 25 police departments and pharmacies countywide will once again take part in the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. 

Local police officers will staff several collection sites throughout the county to receive expired, unused and unwanted prescription medication from the community. 

The event, organized by the Cambria County Drug Coalition, marks the third DEA prescription drug collection effort in Cambria County to date.

It is not uncommon for households to accumulate unused prescription medications over time. Caregivers can find themselves in possession of their departed loved ones’ prescriptions after their death, parents can wind up with leftover medications from their children, and adults fail to discard prescribed medication after a medical procedure or illness. 

Drug collection events serve to safely dispose of these unwanted medications.

In addition, document shredding will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the drug collection site at the Walmart parking lot in Ebensburg, compliments of Crimestoppers. 

Documents that include your personal information such as bank account, credit information or Social Security numbers can be dropped off for immediate shredding, thereby protecting you from identity theft.

New to this event will be sharps containers for disposal of used needles, compliments of the health care sector committee of the drug coalition and Conemaugh Health System. At our April event, a woman came to a site with more than 300 used needles. 

She injects her cat with medicine every day. She talked to officers about the difficulty in disposing of needles used for legitimate medical injections in a safe way. This service was added to provide a means to discard used needles at the drug take back event on Oct. 26.

To date, in 2019, law enforcement in Cambria County has collected and safely disposed of more than 1,800 pounds of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs collected at various police departments and drug take back events. Please do your part on Oct. 26 and visit one of our collection sites. 

You can find a complete list of locations at www.cambriacountydrugcoalition.org.

On Oct. 25, the faith-based sector committee of the drug coalition has planned its second annual First Responders Appreciation Breakfast to honor our local EMS, fire and police department personnel. The event will be held at Emmanuel Church 425 Luther Road, Johnstown, beginning at 9 a.m. 

County first responders can RSVP at www.emmanuelbaptist.net/first-responder/ or call 814-266-4117.

The Cambria County Drug Coalition provides a cross-sector, collaborative approach to fighting the county’s drug problem. 

October is filled with worthy events that strike at the very core of our mission and highlight our unified work. 

Our organization is committed to positive change and the creation of drug free communities across Cambria County. 

 

Kristy Freoni is the chief county detective for the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office. She also serves as a member of the Law Enforcement Sector Committee of the Drug Coalition.

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