AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - A group of college students from Americus began a fundraiser last week to support the families of Officer Nicholas Smarr and Officer Jody Smith, who were killed responding to a domestic call.
The nursing students, including Jessica Knights and Kennedy Cann, are classmates of Officer Smarr's girlfriend, Rachel Harrod.
They said Tuesday that Harrod's ability to have hope in this time of tragedy inspired their fundraiser.
"I know it hit me really hard, being friends with Rachel, knowing her heart, knowing what she's been through this semester already," said Cann.
Cann and Knights said that Harrod's younger brother died in a car wreck just a few months prior to her boyfriend's death last week.
"The things that she has been through, in just a six month period of time, is enough to bring even the biggest and baddest down," said Knights.
The fundraiser is through t-shirt sales. The group of students came up with the idea once they found out what happened last Wednesday.
"Once I found out it was him (Smarr), I got on Facebook and started a group message with the group of nursing students that love and know Rachel," said Knights.
Harrod's upbeat attitude despite the tragedies she has gone through this year inspired the girls to step up and help the loved ones of the fallen brothers in blue.
"She has given us hope in times when most people wouldn't have any," Knights said.
Cann and Knights set up a table outside "The Maze," an Americus business, Friday and Saturday to kickstart their t-shirt sales.
The response was overwhelming.
"This community has really stepped up and shown how much they support and loved those two officers," said Knights.
So far, they've raised more than $12,000 that will go directly to the families of Officer Smarr and Officer Smith.
"I think when we see people later down the road wearing these t-shirts, it's going to remind us all how Americus came together in the midst of a tragedy," said Cann.
The girls are using this as an opportunity to be there for a friend who has been there for them a thousand times over.
Adult short sleeve shirts are $15. Adult long sleeve shirts are $20. Child short sleeve shirts are $10 and child long sleeve shirts are $15. More than half the money from each shirt will go to the families. The rest of that money covers printing costs for Global Graphics, which will not make any profit off the shirts.
The first round of t-shirts will be distributed on Friday, December 16 outside "The Maze."
To order a t-shirt, visit the "Prayers for Americus" Facebook page.
Another Americus business, "Gotta Have It," is also supporting their fundraiser. The owner said she will donate $1 for each t-shirt sold at her store up to $500.
The same students plan to host an event one month after the shooting, on January 7, where everyone can wear their t-shirts.
That's when they hope to present the donations to the officers' families.