Teen Anna Beeson hosts Coffee with a Cop in Petal
By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American
Original article HERE
Community service is a requirement for any reigning pageant winner, but for Anna Beeson it’s also a passion.
Anna, 13, a homeschooled eighth-grader from Petal, is the current Junior Miss Southeast Mississippi Magnolia State.
“It’s not just about how pretty you are, it’s about who you are,” Anna said. “It’s a really great organization.”
Anna recently organized a Coffee with a Cop event in Petal, which drew close to 20 officers from Petal and Petal School District police departments as well as Forrest County Sheriff’s deputies.
“I think it’s great for somebody like her to start this,” Petal Police Chief Leonard Fuller said. “Other departments have started this, and we’ve kind of wanted to do it but never had the motivation to do it.”
The event, held Wednesday at Mom and Dad’s Country Cooking, was a way for her to honor law enforcement officers and veterans as well as try to open the line of communication between residents and those who take an oath to serve and protect.
“When she let us know she was starting it, we were just thrilled to be here,” Fuller said. “We’re going to plan another one, get more public involvement — get more community members to just hang out with us and have a cup of coffee and sit around and talk.”
David and Cindy Bassett, both 44, own Mom and Dad’s. Anna didn’t know David has worked for Forrest County Sheriff’s Department for about 11 years when she talked to Cindy about hosting Coffee with a Cop. David also was chief investigator for Petal Police Department where he worked for 10 years, so he has a close relationship with both departments.
“Of course this is near and dear to my heart because I am (a law enforcement officer),” David Bassett said. “But being a business owner, we’re here. You can use us for anything you like as long as it’s about community relations.”
Anna has a soft spot for veterans because her father served 23 years in the Army. She always stops to talk to veterans when she sees them and thanks them for their service.
When she saw Hattiesburg hosting Coffee with a Cop events, she thought it was something she could do to honor men in law enforcement uniforms as well.
“We want to raise respect for (officers) because they’re risking their lives for us,” Anna said. “There’s such a controversy around officers in the nation, so by doing a random act of kindness, it’s capable of so many things.”
Another Coffee with a Cop for Petal is in the works, but a date and time haven’t yet been scheduled.
As the wearer of the crown, Anna set a goal to perform at least 100 hours of community service by the end of the year. She started in July and has already reached 70 hours with two months left in the year.
“Doing community service, I don’t just do it for the hours,” she said. “I do it because I genuinely enjoy it. I see that whenever I do (makes) changes, I see a difference in myself.”
Her mother, Regina Beeson, is proud of her daughter’s efforts.
“She amazes me,” Beeson said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Mayor Hal Marx said. “Trying to give our citizens a chance to get to know our officers — that they are regular people just like us.
“Some people are scared to approach police officers, they don’t know how to communicate with them or think that they’re not going to be approachable. This humanizes our officers.”
Anna’s personal platform is “Be the Change,” an anti-bullying effort she started after she was bullied at school. She gives out bracelets with the slogan to raise awareness of the effects of bullying and efforts to stop it.
She has a Bible verse that she uses to talk about anti-bullying. Ephesians 4, verse 29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Anna also volunteers with her father at Southern Pines Animal Shelter, where she bathes and grooms some of the animals.
“I think she’s doing a real good job of trying to help our community,” Marx said. “She’s a positive force in our community.”