One by one, boxes of meals were packed into the cars of volunteers Christmas morning hand delivering them to first responders across North Texas.
This year, more than 6,000 meals were delivered through the “Feed a Hero” initiative. Organizer and board member James Searles said the meal preparations began Christmas Eve and the work continued until every last meal was delivered.
“It’s just nice that all of these people are willing to give up their Christmas morning and their Christmas eve and their time and their money and put miles on their cars and spend money on gas and give these things up for people that give their lives up for us,” Searles said.
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“As a kid of law enforcement and someone who has seen the sacrifices that these first responders make for us -- just something as simple as pulled pork and mashed potatoes and green beans and a roll can mean so much to people who put their lives on the line every single day and one of the hardest days of the year when a lot of them don’t spend time with their families.”
In their first year offering deliveries, 50 police officers and firefighters were served. That number has only grown over the years.
Volunteers met organizers in Watauga and Lewisville on Wednesday to begin packing their cars with the meals and hand-delivering them to first responders in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Parker, Cook, and Wise counties.
Pedro Franco of Irving said his wife volunteered last Christmas and this year, they brought along their children as well.
“It’s not just getting gifts at home and everything,” Franco said. “It’s pretty good when we get all of us together on the road and just doing something good, a good deed – you know?”
Robert Spaeth, a firefighter with the Fort Worth Fire Department, said he was surprised to get a box of meals delivered to Station 31 by the Heitz family on Wednesday. However, the surprise was welcomed with gratitude.
“It was cool to see people are thinking of us on Christmas day because a lot of us have to spend time away from friends and family, so it feels good knowing people are still thinking about us at this station,” Spaeth said. “For anyone that knows firefighters – they know they like to eat, so to bring them meals is absolutely awesome. It’s less work they have to do at the station as far as cooking and it feels good to have people think about you and bring you some food.”
Organizers say they already have sights set on 2020 when they aim to serve all of the 8,000 plus police officers and firefighters in North Texas.
Anyone interested in volunteering or donating can visit FeedAHero.org.