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Elementary students have lunch with first responders

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Jars filled with mini donuts were given to the first responders for all the good they do for the community. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal2 / 6
First responders stopped by WDC Elementary to have lunch with students. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal3 / 6
The Lunch with First Responders is an opportunity for students to meet emergency services workers in a comfortable environment. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal4 / 6
First responders and elementary students posed for a group photo during the lunch with first responders event Thursday at the Wadena Elementary School. Dana Cantleberry/WDC Schools5 / 6
Various members of law enforcement, fire fighters, and EMS joined Wadena-Deer Creek students during lunch time. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal6 / 6

Though students were elbow-to-elbow with adults, many they had never met, a hot meal of potatoes and chicken strips in a familiar lunch spot made the occasion quite comfortable.

Students and first responders filled the cafeteria at WDC Elementary School on Jan. 31. Law enforcement, fire fighters, and EMS workers took a step back in time to reminisce with the youth during the Lunch with First Responders event.

The event is in its third year. It was previously referred to as lunch with law enforcement but was expanded to all first responder personnel. Lunch with first responders is an opportunity for children to be introduced to emergency workers in a positive environment.

Officers made their rounds handing out stickers and conversing with students. Kids gleefully ate with their esteemed guests, asking a myriad of questions. Some kids even chose this time to share with first responders their desire to become a police officer or firefighter.

Kent Schmidt, PTO treasurer and school board member, assisted with the event and praised the meetup as an opportunity to thank first responders.

"First responders are there whenever we need them and I think we take them for granted," said Schmidt. Kent along with other faculty members want WDC students to understand how important these people are.

Courtney Wheeler, an EMT with Tri-County Ambulance attended the lunch with some of her co-workers. She sees this as a chance to show students that careers in emergency services are excellent and a way to give back to the community.

Lunch with first responders is about a positive dialogue between children and civil servants. According to Erika Penner, Jail Programmer, for the Wadena County Sheriff's Office, "it's good for kids to see us promoting good. We are just like them."

As a thank you, WDC Elementary staff prepared mini donuts packed into decorative jars for the workers.