DANVILLE, Va. – For more than a year now, 12-year-old Emily Finchum has been traveling around the state visiting first responders and delivering "thank you" cards to them.
"There's a (card for) military, fire, police, dispatch, and then there's 'everybody' cards," Finchum said. "On the back, they have different messages."
The messages offer words of hope and inspiration.
She began this project last June as a result of being bullied in school.
"When I was in third grade, I was bullied a lot. I got a note saying, 'I will kill you' and I was really scared to go to school. My resource officer helped me get through it and I felt really highly of him," Finchum explained. "Once I got older, I decided I wanted to volunteer but couldn't because of my age."
That's when she decided to start making the cards.
So far, she's handed out around 35,000 cards in nearly 100 cities and towns.
"I feel like I'm doing more than volunteering. It's better than volunteering to me," said Finchum.
On her stop in Southside, she visited law enforcement and firefighters in Halifax County, Danville, and Pittsylvania County.
Danville sheriff's deputy, Cpl. Cathy Clark, is humbled by Finchum's effort.
"It was a very humbling experience to have such a young person thank us for what we do," Clark said of her meeting with Finchum.
Danville police officer, Cpl. Johnny West, said Finchum's effort is important.
"It really means a lot to us that younger people are actually showing their gratitude toward us and showing their interest in becoming the next generation of law enforcement officers," West said.
Finchum hopes to one day become a K-9 officer.
In the meantime, she plans to keep saying thank you.
"Right now, I'm just trying to get as far as I can," said Finchum.
To help pay for her cards, Finchum is selling bracelets.
You can purchase a bracelet by sending her a message on Facebook.