First responders were treated to an outpouring of community support on Thursday night, June 18, in the Bandera County First Responders’ Celebration 2020 that served a meal to members of the county’s fire, police and other first responder organizations.
In all, 314 meals were served at a drive-through style event held at the Rusty Wheel in Bandera and members of the community showed first responders how much they meant to the area.
Organizers Laura Cameron and son Jacob were inspired to put together the celebration after watching national news coverage during the past weeks.
Disheartened by what she saw in some communities, Cameron challenged her son to organize a community wide event celebrating first responders.
“We were so sad to see that police were being disrespected in other areas of the country. We had to do something so that our local first responders knew we didn’t feel that way,” Cameron said.
Employees and their families from the Bandera City Marshal’s office, the Bandera County Sherriff’s Department and the county jail, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife Game Warden’s office, Bandera County Emergency Medical Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety in Bandera County, the Bandera County Justices of the Peace and constables and all the volunteer fire departments in the county were invited to take part.
And they were heartened by the outpouring of support demonstrated by the community at the celebration.
“I think we’re lucky to live in Bandera County where people are pro-police,” said Bandera County Fire Marshal John Stith, who took part in the celebration. “It was really, really nice. It means more to the first responders than I think they’re aware of.”
Bandera City Marshal Will Dietrich also attended the event with deputies and other employees from his office. He said he and others stayed after getting meals to talk to some of the community members who turned out.
“I was overjoyed to see the turnout and the community support,” said Dietrich. “It was great to see, especially with the way things are going on in other parts of the country and world.”
The Camerons knew they had to act fast to get the event put together in light of limits imposed on public gatherings that could get tighter as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.
They put up a Facebook page outlining the celebration and immediately began to see the generosity of spirit inherent in the people of Bandera County.
“The outpouring of support and donations was just amazing,” said Cameron.
The Baker Family offered the event a venue at the Rusty Wheel on Main Street.
Corporate sponsors that stepped forward with financial support for the dinner and food donations were the Bandera Lions Club, Hondo Bank, Texas Hill Country Bank, Reed Scruby of Waterboyz Water Well, Buddy’s Water Well and Septic Service, Cohn Insurance, Josh Pick of State Farm Insurance, The Hungry American, Jeff and Melissa Lewis and family and Warriors’ Heart.
Donations even arrived by mail from outside of Bandera County from people who loved the idea and just wanted to help, Cameron said.
Heath Dorries and his family organized backing for the goodie bags given to each first responder with his or her meal.
Items for the goodie bags were purchased thanks to the support of the Bandera Electric Cooperative, the Bandera Cowgirl Calendars, Vickie and Edward Browning of Texas Rose Realty, Darcy Hasty, Hondo Bank, Hyo Silver, Innovative Urgent Care of Bandera, State Farm – Josh Pick, Cohn Insurance Agency, Spectrum Products and Warriors’ Heart.
With the giveaways, each first responder received a ticket for door prizes provided by Hyo Silver, Phyllis Ricks of Ashley Furniture Kerrville, H-E-B grocery and Innovative Urgent Care of Bandera.
Door prize winners will be announced on the First Responders Celebration 2020 Facebook page.
The Bandera County 4-H Shotgun Team made signs and decorated the area where the drive-through meals were delivered and served some of the meals themselves.
Balloons and ribbons used for decoration were provided by the Meier Family, and Photography by Michele took pictures of the event.
Other donors to the celebration were the Chavez family, the Kuykendall family, Melissa Kinsey, the Morrow family, Julie Muerer, Richard and Jane Pratt and many anonymous donors.
Any money left over after the bills of the celebration were paid will be split among the county’s volunteer fire departments, officials said.
“We just can’t thank everyone enough for all of their help and tireless work on this event,” the event organizers said.