By Mary Kate McGrath - January 8, 2020
Each year, first responders, whether they are firefighters, EMS workers, 9-1-1 dispatchers, or law enforcement, contribute to their towns, cities, or municipalities by providing critical response services. Many of these workers take a public service a step further, and go above and beyond the demands of their job to play an active role in creating a better community. First responders work and communicate with residents daily, and are often in a unique position to build positive, impactful initiatives. From delivering dinners during the holidays, to cheering up children in the hospital with fun costumes, to distributing school supplies to students from low-income backgrounds. These examples of first responders giving back in 2019 will warm your heart.
First responders across the United States found positive ways to contribute to their communities throughout the last year. These programs, a mix of long-standing institutional traditions and new, are forward-thinking community policing initiatives that offer the community the chance to meet and communicate with first responders. For this reason, making an effort to give back can provide a mutual benefit, as first responders can come to better understand the people they protect and the concerns facing people’s daily lives.
Often, giving back is the best way to prioritize community policing, a strategy focused on building bonds and collaborating with members of a community to build trust and better protect residents. By ensuring first responders have a chance to meet and interact with the people being served, residents and law enforcement can promote mutual understanding. Programs of this sort encourage partnerships between local police and first response teams, local government, non-profits and other organizations, small businesses, and residents. Building a stronger, safer community can begin with the simple act of reaching out to those in need, so first responders looking to improve their communities should prioritize initiatives to give back.
If your public safety team is looking for new, impactful ways to do community outreach, be sure to check out several of the heartwarming examples of first responders giving back in 2019 below:
Today, East Community Policing partnered with @canyoncomanches Girls Soccer Team & the Miraloma Park Family Resource Center for a community holiday barbecue! Kids got to unwrap gifts, play soccer, & make ornaments! 👮♂️🎄🎁— Anaheim PD (@AnaheimPD) December 24, 2019
Special thanks to APD volunteers for working the grill! pic.twitter.com/GX2FIxUlH0
In partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Anaheim and the Miraloma Park Family Resource Center, Anaheim PD hosted an annual family holiday barbecue, complete with gifts, a game of soccer, and the chance to decorate ornaments. The event is a heartwarming example of how local first responders can team up with local organizations to
In St. Louis, Missouri, local firefighters held its 30th annual Captain Derek D. Martin food drive to benefit those in need, named in honor of a former captain, who died in 2002 while trying to rescue another fallen firefighter. The event was hosted in the Firefighter Hall, and outside members of the community volunteered to help the team collect and organize donations.
CFD firefighters “knocked it out of the park” for a second time win at the Stockton Softball tournament which supports local charities. pic.twitter.com/1wuRRF2sh8— Cosumnes Fire Dept. (@CosumnesFire) May 24, 2019
Back in May, firefighters in Sacramento, California participated in an annual softball game to support local charities. Across the United States, EMTs, law enforcement, and even military officials come together each year for similar tournaments, meant to raise money for a good, and often local, cause.
When a Tennessee police officer retired after nearly 25 years on the job, his daughter, an emergency dispatcher, gave an emotional send-off over the police wire, talking about how she planned to keep the family commitment to serving the community.
Our school-supplies drive was very successful. Det’s Jones & Jordan shown with supplies distributed to assist children in need. Organized by Ptl. Rattigan of our Community Policing Unit. Thanks to all who supported the drive, esp @WoodmontStation & Cranford Park Rehabilitation. pic.twitter.com/pcgU2vZIa9— Cranford Police Dept (@CranfordPD) September 14, 2018
Ahead of a new school year, first responders in Cranford, New Jersey, hosted a drive to get school supplies for those in need, including backpacks, writing utensils, art materials, and books. In order to make the event a success, the police department collaborated with a local business, as well as a rehabilitation center based in town.
One popular way to encourage community policing efforts and offer information to residents ia a Citizen’s Police Academy, such as that hosted in Grove City, Pennsylvania. One resident called the program, ``the most exciting thing she’d ever been involved with, while another man said the class taught “what the community has to offer.” Inviting residents in for a community academy can be a way to keep residents informed about the resources available in their area, and provide an opportunity to solicit key concerns moving into the new year.
Let’s do more than ever before in 2020! Thanks again to our faithful friends and supporters for a wonderful past year. Take a look at some of our favorite moments 🎉 pic.twitter.com/fW81UIYVmN— Sunshine Division (@SUNSHINE_DIV) January 2, 2020
During the holidays, the Portland Police Department teamed up with a local organization called Sunshine Division, which helps connect families with o-cost emergency food and clothing, to help deliver food to those in need. By working together, the team was able to deliver over 4,300 meals to families in need throughout the holiday season.
After an oven fire derailed a Vermont family's plans for a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, these firefighters took the food to the fire station to cook and delivered it back to the home around 4:30 p.m., just in time for dinner https://t.co/ELCterMtAn— CNN (@CNN) November 29, 2019
Firefighters in Vermont came to the rescue twice after an oven-fire interrupted one family’s plans for a home-cooked Thanksgiving. The Fire Chief, upon telling the mother her oven couldn’t be used for the rest of the day, then, “ended up going back to the house to grab all her food and taking it back to the fire station and cooked it for her.” Later the same day, fire officials delivered the Thanksgiving meal, prepared and ready to be eaten.
Shop With A Cop: Dunklin students, and those from other schools, enjoyed shopping with officers and EMTs today at the TC Walmart. The kids met Santa before meeting their shopping buddy. Thanks to donations, each child had $100 to spend on loved ones. It was awesome. #GoBlackcats pic.twitter.com/a1lBHtCP9P— Matt Lichtenstein (@BlackcatMatt) December 19, 2019
In Dunklin, Missouri, local students were given an opportunity to participate in a “Shop with A Cop” program, where each kid met Santa before being assigned a local law enforcement officer as their shopping buddy. Every participant was given $100 to spend on family members and loved-ones, and all seemed to have a great time participating in the event.
Mary Kate is a content specialist and social media manager for the Rave Mobile Safety team. She writes about public safety for the state & local and education spheres.
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