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Aug 09, 2017

Church “Thanks” to First Responders Hits Home

Lunch for all comers was the invitation to the neighborhood around Holy Spirit, Waco last fall. The church served up a barbecue lunch on the church campus at a neighborhood block party to kick off the new school year. But there was more on the schedule than tasty brisket. Parishioners also delivered nearly 300 lunches to local police, firefighters at two substations that serve the church, and sheriffs and staff at the county jail.

“We wanted to show our appreciation for their public service,” said the Rev. Jason Ingalls, rector of Holy Spirit. 

Church members were stunned by the outpouring of appreciation from the Chief of Police, the Fire Chief and the Sheriff,” said Karen O’Bric, the church’s community life coordinator. 

One of my favorite stories is that several weeks after the block party, I was at our local Home Depot and saw a large gathering of uniformed officers and firemen together with their fire trucks, and police and emergency rescue vehicles surrounded by dozens of children and their parents,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it when out of that sea of activity, the Chief of Police—who recognized me from our conversations during the block party event—came up to me and said, ‘We are still talking about the meals your church brought to us.  No one has ever done that before.  Our motto 'Protect and Serve' is stamped on all our vehicles and your church reminded us that we have forgotten the 'serve' part.  So we organized this event at Home Depot to promote a safe Hallowe'en and let the kids know they can count on us to protect them while they're out trick or treating.’” 

The response was so positive that O’Bric said this year’s event for First Responders will be a stand alone event on Sunday closest to 9/11.  Parishioners will deliver 400 lunches to police officers, administration and the dispatchers at the Waco Police Department; to firemen at all 14 firehouses as well as Fire Department headquarters; to the wardens, medical personnel and staff at the County jail; and two the emergency room medical personnel and staff at Baylor Scott and White and Providence Hospitals.  “Each box will include a small note to say: ‘Thanks for all you do to keep us safe,’” O’Bric said. 

At a time when public discourse is less than ideal, the opportunity to impact someone’s day with a “sacrament” of appreciation can be more than enough for transformation.