Volunteers supporting the Stomp It Out event walked door-to-door in the Fresno and Clovis area this week to raise awareness of an epidemic sweeping our nation: prescription drug abuse.
The third annual awareness event takes place Saturday, when hundreds of families gather at Clovis Unified School District’s Alta Sierra Intermediate School for an action-packed morning. The event begins with a 5K run/walk through the nearby community and along the Clovis Trail.
Following the run/walk, all participants – from seniors to babies in strollers – may participate in many other enjoyable activities including games, live music, food, pony rides, a petting zoo, dunk tanks, free popcorn and much more.
The focus of the event is to encourage community members to bring expired or no longer needed medications to a designated drop-off station at the Alta Sierra campus. Members of the Sheriff’s Foundation for Public Safety will be on site to collect prescription drugs.
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All drugs turned in will be properly and safely disposed of by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. People depositing outdated or unused prescriptions will be entered into a drawing for prizes donated by local vendors.
Stomp It Out is a true local effort and an excellent example of the faith-based community joining forces with government in a much needed public and private partnership.
Four years ago, Sheriff Margaret Mims, former District Attorney Elizabeth Egan and I met with Dean Witt, Dan Darchuck and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There were a large group of enthusiastic volunteers who were ready, willing and able to organize a public event with the goal of having the greatest positive impact on our families while addressing a problem in our neighborhoods and schools.
Egan voiced her strong concerns regarding the seriousness of the prescription drug abuse problem and the devastation to families who find themselves in these challenging situations. The potential of making a big difference in the lives of young adults and their families, while shedding light on a topic that is sometimes difficult to discuss, was enthusiastically embraced by local members of the church.
The national statistics reflect a daunting challenge. In 2014, 1,700 young people died from prescription drug overdose, which is more than double the number in 2001. This trend is frightening and a wake-up call for all families.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported last year that 18 percent of 12th-graders admitted to abusing prescription drugs. Although down from the 21 percent reported in 2012, it continues to be a very serious issue.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent at the federal, state and local levels attempting to address substance-abuse problems in our nation. Locally, Fresno County spends over $20 million a year. Without racial and socioeconomic boundaries, drug abuse affects family, friends, neighbors and residents of all ages in every corner of our county.
Last November, The Bee published an editorial, “What to do with those extra prescription drugs,” and encouraged action. Congress is currently considering a bill that would assist with safe disposal of prescription drugs. Without waiting for a government solution, three years ago members of the LDS church organized a week of advocacy and education by creating the Prescription Drug Abuse Stomp It Out event.
Please join this effort and help keep drugs away from your children, grandchildren, neighbors or young friends who may visit your home. Spend a few minutes today to clean out your medicine cabinets.
Take out the old and unused prescription drugs, bag what you want to discard, and come by Alta Sierra at 380 W. Teague Ave. in Clovis (at Peach) to drop off your bag. There will be sheriff’s personnel available from 9 a.m. to noon to receive your unwanted medications for proper disposal. Since the Stomp It Out events began, over 100 pounds of old and unused drugs have been collected.
If you are interested in participating in the third annual Stomp It Out run/walk, please visit www.stompitoutpda.com for more information. For those unable to attend Saturday’s event, there are year-round drug drop-off locations at the Clovis Police Department and Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.