While first responders perform difficult and dangerous work every day, they may go a long time without receiving thanks or support for their efforts. Some communities, however, have made concrete plans to rally around their firefighters, police officers and EMTs, letting them know that the services they provide are invaluable.

While such celebrations can seem downright understated – after all, first responders' jobs are about saving lives – appreciation can have an immense impact. Knowing that cities and towns are behind them and support the vital work they do can buoy emergency responders' spirits and forge strong bonds between communities and departments. The following are two examples of how these kinds of events can come together.

Family Fun Night in Gulfport
The Sun Herald, a Mississippi news source, described a recent gathering for Harrison County first responders and their families. The idea came from Mark and Alicia Powell, the proprietors of a party equipment rental business. When the couple called the police to help deal with an incident in which a renter refused to return an item, it served as a reminder of how much aid police, fire and EMT personnel provide to citizens every day. The Powells decided to organize a regional event showing the community's support for its first responders.

Since the couple behind the gathering rent out inflatable party equipment for a living, it was easy to set up a party that attendees' young children could enjoy. Despite rain, the party involved playtime for the kids and free food for everyone. The Sun Herald noted that a local youth group, WINGS for Performing Arts, put on a skit, and a fitness demonstration allowed guests to try a new kind of exercise set to music. The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center and local small businesses made the event possible by donating time and facilities.

Both of today's examples come from Mississippi.Both of today's examples come from Mississippi.

Day of celebration declared in Winston County
In another example from the same state, Winston County declared a day of celebration for its first responders, according to local news station WTOK. In this case, Vowell's Market and Bennett's Do It Center decided to create a day that would highlight unity between the county and its police officers, firefighters, EMTs and sheriff's deputies. Louisville, Miss., police chief L.M. Claiborne explained why these events are so important.

"We're only as effective as a community will allow us to be and through their cooperation and working with us. I think it's important that we come out and meet them so they can put a name to the face," he told the news provider.

When communities band together to show their appreciation for fire, EMS and law enforcement personnel, they can choose from plenty of different gathering types. A meet-and-greet is one option, as is a dinner, carnival or talent-based event. The choice of agenda, however, is less important than ensuring that a forum exists for civilians and first responders to meet. Celebrating the aid these hard-working professionals give for their communities is always worthwhile.