The Gavin Buchanan Memorial Foundation hosted a Dog-Wash-a-Thon at Pet Food Express Saturday to raise money for bulletproof vests for police dogs. The foundation’s goal was to raise $2,000, but due to strong support from the community, it ended up raising more than $7,000, with online donations still coming in.
Chairwoman Brandi Narvaez said she was elated by the results.
“We are just stunned by the community outpouring, both financially and just people showing up,” she said.
Gavin Buchanan, 8, was killed in September alongside his father, Adam, and mother, Molly McAffee in the family’s Greenwood cabin. His 16-year-old half brother, Nolen, was arrested on suspicion of the homicide, and his case is currently being handled in El Dorado County.
Gavin was very passionate about the safety of police K9s. When he was 5, he donated his entire allowance and chore money to police K-9s. This effort so touched Benicia police officers that he even became an ambassador to K-9s.
Gavin’s family set up the nonprofit foundation in October to honor his commitment to protecting K9s. The first fundraiser was held over the weekend at Pet Food Express, where customers would spend $15 to have their canines washed at the shop’s self-service dog wash stations. All the proceeds went to the foundation which in turn will be donated to help outfit the Benicia Police Department’s new K-9 unit vehicles with proper safety gear, including window guards, door panel guards and alert systems.
Patrons also had the option to get custom embroidered pet collars and meet local officers, and they were also treated to K-9 demonstrations.
“We had three separate K-9 demonstrations,” Narvaez said. “We were lucky enough to have Palo Alto police present, and the two Benicia K-9 units did some really fun stuff.”
Officer Brad Young of the Palo Alto Police Department did obedience demonstrations with his department’s K-9 Eddie. Benicia officers Kirk Keffer and Jake Heinemeyer did additional demonstrations with K-9 Bak and K-9 Atos and also answered questions about the day in the life of a K-9 officer.
The event drew a large crowd and amassed $7,000 in donations. Two anonymous donators gave $500 each. Those who could not be at the event in person mailed checks. In a parallel to Gavin’s dedication, the first donor of the day was a young Benicia resident named Amaya who donated the entire contents of her piggy bank to support the protection of police dogs.
Narvaez said she was very appreciative of the event’s turnout.
“People came by to tell us their stories about how they knew Gavin or his family and how they wanted to support the local community,” she said. “For the financial reasons, we are related but also really grateful for the community outreach as well.”
Narvaez said the foundation has other fundraiser ideas planned for the spring and has received calls from local businesses about fundraising concepts, but she said nothing is set in stone.
“We don’t have anything formal to announce yet, but we have a couple ideas brewing for the spring and summer,” she said. “We’ll definitely reach out to the Benicia community and let them know where we’ll be hosting our next fundraising event.”
For more information on the foundation, visit GavinBuchananMemorialFoundation.com or call Narvaez at (707) 365-5424.
Photo courtesy of Brandi Narvaez
K-9 Eddie of the Palo Alto Police Department jumps a fence during an obedience training demonstration.