Organizers hope Feast for First Responders gains steam in Tonganoxie
A few Tonganoxie residents who made a meal for first-responders hope the gesture will become a regular occurrence.
The first Feast with First Responders dinner took place Feb. 19 at the Tonganoxie City Fire Station.
Roughly 20 people were present, with representatives from the Tonganoxie police and fire departments and Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Service. Leavenworth County Sheriff’s office members also were invited to the gathering.
Tonganoxie residents Monica Gee, Margie Gilner and Kara Reed prepared a menu of chili, hot dogs, cornbread, vegetables and desserts. It was a Friday night meal during Lent, so meatless chili also was offered.
Reed first pitched the idea after reading of a program in her hometown. Residents in Germantown, Tenn., a Memphis suburb, prepare meals for first-responders in their neighborhoods. The residents invite the personnel to their homes on a rotating basis.
“The goal is to get residents and first-responders together in a laid-back environment where everyone can get to know each other,” Reed said. “Oftentimes a resident’s interaction with first-responders is in a stressful situation, and these gatherings give an opportunity to interact in a relaxed atmosphere and provide a meal for those who serve our community.”
Reed is a City Council member, while Gee is a Tonganoxie Planning Commission member. She also is involved with the Friends of the Tonganoxie Police group. Gilner has been involved in the community for several years. Her husband, Andy Gilner, also is a City Council member and longtime Tonganoxie High School teacher.
After speaking with both Tonganoxie Police Chief Jeff Brandau and Tonganoxie Fire Chief Jack Holcom, it was decided to try doing the dinners at the fire station.
Reed said it’s hoped future meals also could take place at the new police station, Chieftain Park with cookouts and possibly block parties as a few examples.
The current plan is to recruit interested groups to sponsor or prepare the meals on a quarterly basis. The ultimate goal would be a monthly schedule if enough groups are interested in hosting and organizing.
Anyone from scout and church groups to Parent Teacher Club groups could participate.
Gee, Gilner and Reed sponsored and organized the first meal.
Anyone interested in getting involved in the program can contact Margie Gilner at email@example.com.