JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - For months, the Back the Blue program in Jonesboro assisted people in various forms of need.
"There's a lot of people who ate, there's a lot of kids who had Christmas, there's a lot of kids who had shelter," Back the Blue founder John Shipman said. "There's a lady right now, through the proceeds of these shirt sales, who is living in a room who didn't have water or electricity for over a year."
However, after a civil suit was filed against Shipman in regards to payment for shirts that helped fund the program, many realized that Back the Blue was not a non-profit organization.
"I know there's some concerns out there and I totally understand that," Shipman said. "If anybody was misled by that, they have my deepest apologies. I wouldn't mislead anybody for any reason. We were just trying to do good things."
Shipman said he reported on his tax return that Back the Blue raised approximately $10,000.
However, he said some of the money raised and spent to help others isn't as easy to calculate.
"You have to understand that there was a lot of t-shirts given away, there was a lot of everything given away through Back the Blue, so there's no way to put a dollar on those amounts," Shipman said. "We gave away to two people $5,000. We fixed a motor in a young mother's vehicle. We got that $3,000 job done for $1,200 to $1,300."
Shipman said between his full- time job as an officer, part-time jobs, and working to help others, he didn't start the paperwork to become a 501(c)(3) entity in a timely manner.
"We should have got some more paperwork done quicker," Shipman said. "I just did not get down and get the book work done. That's why we always referred to it as a Back the Blue Program. Because I knew that we didn't have our status, and until we got that status, I never portrayed it to be that way."
Tuesday, Shipman filed for a privilege license with the City of Jonesboro to conduct business through Back the Blue.
He said this is the first step in making the program non-profit. He said he doesn't plan to stop helping people through Back the Blue any time soon.
"The good in this community is still alive and well and we've got a lot of good left to do," Shipman said.
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