There are many different ways to show appreciation and support for the firefighters, police officers and paramedics who put their lives at risk to help others in need. People all over the nation have shown great creativity and dedication in putting together events large and small to tell these first responders they are valued. Three quick looks at such efforts follow, and there are many more going on every day.

Helpful group for spouses sets up in Virginia
Virginia news channel WTKR recently focused on Backing the Thin Line, a group founded by Megan Stewart, herself the wife of a police officer. The TV station gave Stewart its People Taking Action Award for her efforts, which include organizing several helpful gatherings aimed at easing the burdens placed on the families of first responders. In the past, this has taken the form of fundraising to help relatives of those who have died in the line of duty, in addition to more general social get-togethers.

WTKR reported that Stewart's group also gathers presents for children at the holidays, and it recently took part in a training exercise for first responders hosted by the local elementary school. Backing the Thin Line volunteers handed out water to police and fire personnel while they participated in the simulated action.

A 'thank you' from local pupils
Derby, Kansas's, Derby Informer recently detailed another project designed to make first responders feel appreciated. This effort featured crafts by children at a Derby Presbyterian Church summer program. The kids at the program range in age from preschool to fifth grade levels, and they used oversized pieces of poster board to create large thank-you cards.

"The first responders were very appreciative and the kids loved seeing them here," the church's Christian education director, Michael Gutzmer, told the news provider. "It was a great time."

"Even simple gestures can make first responders feel appreciated."

The Informer noted that 11 emergency personnel were there to receive the children's thank-you cards and presents of candy, giving them stickers in return. The first responder group consisted of police officers, firefighters and one paramedic. This type of community connection shows that even simple gestures such as cards can make first responders feel appreciated.

Free meal to show support
Community meals shouldn't be overlooked among the many ways to thank local emergency personnel. Dealing with demanding schedules, first responders will have had to miss a fair few home-cooked meals in their years of service, so this gesture could be greatly appreciated. Dayton, Ohio's WHIO recently described one such gathering at the Fairborn Senior Center.

The news provider explained that no single group was behind the meal – it was conceived by an alliance of companies and churches, each wanting to do its part to make sure the first responders in the community know their service is valued. This demonstrates that even when individuals or groups don't feel they have the resources to launch such a venture, they can band together. However these events are created, they are a practical outlet through which to voice support for the police, fire and EMS personnel who keep their areas safe when emergencies strike.