What do you get when you combine one man's hot sauce, the kindness of a stranger overseas and World War II maps?
For a North Charleston officer, the unconventional recipe yielded a chance to help an injured colleague.
In the coming weeks, Reggie Sharpe, a warrants officer with the North Charleston Police Department, plans to present more than $500 to Officer Brandon VanAusdal, a K-9 handler who is continuing to recover after a wreck left him injured and claimed the life of his K-9 partner, Mojo, in February.
Sharpe, who spends his days hunting down suspects, doesn't work closely with VanAusdal. And his pen pal, a K-9 handler who helped put the donation in motion from England, doesn't know the injured officer at all.
But to Sharpe, their collaboration is a testament to the strong camaraderie among law enforcement.
"Officers have that special bond over great distances like that," he said.
Sharpe, 49, joined North Charleston police in 2012 after a lengthy career with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office. He wrote about his experiences as a deputy in a book titled "True Stories from a Lowcountry Cop."
His recent charitable venture began on thehotpepper.com, a website where pepper lovers from around the world converge to discuss cultivation, sell seeds and swap hot sauce recipes.
Sharpe joined the online community of fellow "chiliheads" when he launched his hot sauce business, Warrant Man Pepper Co., about a year ago.
Then one day in February, Sharpe took to the site's online forum to talk about matters more personal. His police department was facing tragedy. He lamented two separate crashes in one night: one that claimed the life of an off-duty officer and the other involving VanAusdal.
VanAusdal and Mojo, a Belgian Malinois, were rushing to a call on Feb. 15 when authorities said a suspected drunken driver pulled out in front of them.
An officer in England messaged Sharpe to express his condolences. As a longtime K-9 handler himself, Constable John Braund wrote that he felt for VanAusdal.
Sharpe, touched by the message, packaged some of his hot sauce as a thank you. Off went three bottles of the condiments called Clearly Guilty, Homicide and Aggravated Assault. Destination: the county of Hampshire in southern England.
Sharpe's products had never traveled so far.
In return, Braund mailed Sharpe six silk maps that he had received as a gift while serving in the British Army. The escape and evasion maps were issued to British pilots during World War II, Sharpe said, and similar maps were used by American and Allied servicemen.
The antiques had some value.
Braund suggested Sharpe keep one map and sell the rest to help VanAusdal "stretching the thin blue line across the pond," he wrote.
Sharpe brought the maps to a meeting at the Tri-County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 where they were received with a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" from members, many of them history buffs. People offered him money that night. Sharpe didn't have any trouble selling them.
"He had an overwhelming response," lodge President John Blackmon said. "They're amazing pieces of history."
This wasn't the first time Sharpe helped organize support for fellow officers. When he served on the FOP's board in 2001, he helped start a fund to benefit officers and their families during times of crisis, assuring that a pool of money would be available after unexpected incidents such as line-of-duty deaths or house fires.
The lodge says it has since gifted thousands of dollars.
Sharpe's correspondence with Braund in the United Kingdom likely won't end here. Sharpe and the FOP are already planning to mail the constable a plaque for his help.