ROANOKE, Va. – A Roanoke couple returns with their mission to honor Roanoke Valley first responders with a free meal.
When tragedy strikes, first responders are ready to help. But the Roanoke Elks Lodge 197 is returning the favor.
The organization delivered 470 meals to first responders across the Roanoke Valley on Saturday.
Angela and Jim Batey started the tradition nine years ago as a kind gesture to recognize the danger first responders face and their selflessness.
“I didn’t feel the officers and the first responders were getting the appreciation they deserved,” Jim said. “We just wanted as a lodge to give the something out of the blue.”
At the lodge, Roanoke firefighters pulled up in style. Children rushed out to greet the firefighters and get a taste of their uniforms.
“He got himself decked out so they understand what it takes for them to protect us,” Angela said. “I just think that’s important for the younger generation.”
First responders were offered a chance to cool down at the pool and indulge in a hefty lunch.
“Firemen are always excited for the food,” Lt. Joshua Pruitt with Roanoke Fire EMS said. “If we are not cooking it we like it better when people serve it to us. It’s good.”
But after serving as a firefighter for the past 18 years, Pruitt said he just cares to serve his community.
“It does make us feel good to have people appreciate us and thank us for that kind of think,” he said. “But at the end of day we really don’t think of ourselves as anything special.”