HEFLIN — All first responders in Cleburne County received a thank-you and a free breakfast Wednesday morning at the Heflin Hardee’s during the first First Responder Appreciation Day.
A smorgasbord of items including biscuits, eggs, gravy, sausage and drinks awaited personnel from law enforcement, fire departments, EMS and dispatchers according to Hardee’s manager Kathy Thompson.
Thompson said the appreciation day is the first of its kind in Heflin and she hopes to continue the culinary effort two times each year.
Thompson said that Wednesday was also National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day across the nation but did not realize that when the Hardee’s event was scheduled.
Sarah Wright, a specialist for HNI restaurants, which owns the Heflin Hardee’s, said in addition to the free breakfast all first responders received a metal Hardee’s tumbler which they can refill at no charge.
“We do care about them because these guys do work hard and we wanted to take time out of our week to show how grateful we are for them,” Wright said.
Wright and Thompson were in the parking lot taking photos of Heflin Police officer Danny Turner who was with the department's 90-pound K9, Beni. At times jumping up on his hind legs, the dog was more than happy to pose for photographs.
Turner, like the other officers gathered, appreciated the breakfast.
“It always means a lot for the people, the citizens of the community to say ‘thank you’ for what we do on a regular basis. A lot of times it goes unnoticed and they’re just taking time out of their day to say they do appreciate what we do,” Turner said.
Cleburne County Sheriff Office investigator Joseph Freeman also appreciated the support the eatery bestowed upon first responders.
“We don’t get thanked daily for the stuff we do, a lot of negative, but this, we really appreciate when people show us thankfulness,” Freeman said.
Freeman said that deputies were taking turns coming in at different times to fill up on the steaming trays of food.
Heflin Police Chief A.J. Benefield said kudos from the restaurant go a long way compared to others who are more critical.
“A lot of times they focus on the negative instead of the positive, attaboys are a plus, them doing it for the community and feeding us and everything, it definitely means a lot to us,” said Benefield.