As we near the end of an incredibly busy year filled with more than anyone ever could have imagined we'd see, we'd like to offer up a very brief re-cap of 2020.
Back in March when it was becoming more and more evident that the Corona Virus was becoming something much larger than originally thought, a financial supporter came to us and jump started what would be the largest project we had attempted to date. Our "2020 Pandemic Project", as we appropriately named it, included weeks of hard work, negotiating meal purchases with local restaurants, arranging pickup and deliveries, purchasing of dry goods, and other grocery items, contacting command staff at every precinct and agency in Cobb County and ensuring every shift at every location received at least one meal delivery, so our officers and 911 personnel could enjoy a safe meal while on duty. We extended beyond the Cobb boarders and even included some of our Fire heroes. We also acquired hundreds of face masks and bottles of hand sanitizer, early in the pandemic when these items were extremely hard to locate and purchase, and delivered to agencies all over the county.
In April, the county mourned the loss of Christopher Ewing, a Smyrna PD officer. We were honored to present a hand made quilt from another nonprofit out of Vermilion Ohio, "Fallen Blue Quilts", to officer Ewing's widow and daughter. Along with the quilt, we presented two memorials, one to the family and the other to the Smyrna Police Department.
Other efforts throughout the year included support to officers who faced difficult times due to illness. One such officer was provided a weekend get-away and "date night" with his wife, after he had suffered with Covid-19 and had quarantined in a tent in their back yard, because household family members were immune compromised and he did not want to risk their catching this disease from him.
Later in the year as we approached the Thanksgiving holidays, we once again returned to our original mission of providing Thanksgiving day meals to all the on duty day shift officers in Cobb County, both city and county municipalities. With an overwhelming response from the community, and with the help of about 30 volunteers, this Thanksgiving was an incredible one. Meals were purchased from two restaurants in Cobb ("Come-n-Get It" and "Cracker Barrel") and staging of dry goods, cold items and supplies took place in donated space provided by "Paul's Pot Pies" in Kennesaw. This project took place over an amazing week and on Thanksgiving day, things could not have come together any better.
As the Christmas holidays rolled around, our "Blue Family Christmas" (Formerly "A Church Family Christmas") involved sponsoring THREE officers with Cobb PD and a Cobb Sheriff's Deputy. Although we were somewhat nervous about taking on this many families, the community response was overwhelming, once again and with the support of many wonderful people, we successfully provided gifts for the children of these heroes and financial gifts that were significant enough to make a very positive impact. We cannot thank the community, our blue family, our corporate sponsors, the organizations and foundations who provided grants, the volunteers who worked tirelessly on the event held at Glover Park Brewery in Marietta, the Luminary "Light the Night" fundraiser and even those who are not from the area, but heard about this project and sent donations to help. If you would like to know more about this project, please read the post below titled "A Blue Family Christmas" and see the video at https://www.facebook.com/bluethanksgiving/videos/906680406739296 and photos attached to this post.
As the year comes to a close, we continue to work hard to ensure our heroes know they are appreciated. Publix in Kennesaw and Marietta continue to donate bakery goods that are picked up and delivered five days a week by our amazing volunteers under the leadership of our volunteer coordinator, Liz Sanchez. Our fundraiser coordinator, Paula Zeillinger is already brainstorming new ideas for 2021 fundraisers, and was responsible for the very successful "Light the Night" and "Belk Charity Sale" events we had in 2020.
We'd like to thank all the wonderful volunteers who gave so selflessly of their time and talents this year. We are grateful to our sponsors, and all who have provided financially so we could continue our mission. As president of BTI, I would like to thank our board of directors, Celene Joiner, Steve Kucynda, Barry Little, Benjamin Peace, and most especially my husband and co-founder of Blue Thanksgiving, my husband Douglas Hill. He has been instrumental in the success of this organization and a very large, but quiet and behind-the-scenes part of every project we have ever had.
Here's hoping that 2021 brings health, happiness, love and success to everyone who has been touched or involved in any capacity by our work. Happy New Year!