Showing appreciation to those who serve others was the inspiration for a special Thanksgiving dinner last week.

Kenneth and Sandra Wolff said the idea just came to them the week before the holiday of feasting - to honor those who serve others - 24/7, 365 days a year.

"The Lord just paid it on our hearts to fix Thanksgiving dinner for all the first responders who have to work and can't be home with their families," Kenneth said. "There's just the four of us and we cook and have so many leftovers. This year we decided we'd bring our dinner to town and share it with the people who are working and don't get to have a meal with their family."

So the Wolffs and their two sons got busy, visiting local businesses and collecting donations to serve those who serve others. The reserved the courthouse annex room on Broad Street for the event, then began gathering food donations for the meal.

"We had so many people and businesses wanting to help," Wolff said. "Walmart, David's Steakhouse, Save a Lot, Flowers Bakery, Hearthside, Frisch's - just so many people wanted to help out."

But all the food donations then had to be prepared and kept warm throughout Thanksgiving Day to accommodate the few moments that emergency staff may have had free during their shifts.

"The community room has a refrigerator and microwave, but we wanted to keep the food warm," Wolff said. "Wayne Riley at the Laurel County African American Center loaned us his warming unit so we could keep the food hot."

Eric Smith was on duty at the London-Laurel County Dispatch Center on Thanksgiving Day and was one of those who came for a Thanksgiving meal.

"There are four of us working today and the other people had already eaten," he said. "I was just thinking about what places would be open when they called and told me about the dinner here."

The choices were plentiful - the traditional turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, deviled eggs, peas, corn, green beans, yams, rolls, salad, drinks and a variety of pies.

Smith said he was very appreciative - both for the Thanksgiving dinner and the thoughts of concern for those who work holidays and weekends.

For the Wolffs, the day was one to show respect and appreciation for first responders who sacrifice their family time in order to serve others. The couple once oversaw "Peace in the Valley" ministries but when they faced some health issues themselves, they suspended their programs. But the calling to prepare food for first responders, they said, was the first step in rebuilding that program to help others.

"The first responders - the police, ambulance, rescue, firefighters and dispatchers - they give up so much to do their jobs and help others," Wolff said. "You never know when you're going to need them. We just wanted to show them how much we appreciate them."

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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