Students show appreciation for first responders

Apr 14, 2018

”Hands down you’re the best,” read one of the 665 thank you cards Dartmouth’s Brian Harrington delivered to first responders on April 14.

The Odies Place Animal Rescue owner visited the Dartmouth Police Department, each fire district, and EMS crews to hand out the letters, written by Dartmouth school children as part of his Operation Thank You initiative.

He was inspired to begin the project after a fire in New Bedford several weeks ago, which Dartmouth fire crews responded to through mutual aid.

“I think we need to do more of it,” Harrington said. “I think right now we only thank them when we get help from them – we have to receive a service in order to show appreciation, and I think we need to change that.”

The delivery of the letters came just two days after the line of duty death of Yarmouth police officer Sean Gannon. The New Bedford native and Bishop Stang graduate was gunned down while serving a warrant in the Marstons Mills neighborhood of Barnstable on April 12.

Harrington said the goal is to acknowledge the sacrifice first responders make. He hoped the letters uplifted their spirits.

At the police station, Harrington delivered almost 300 cards to officers. Each officer recieved four cards, and officers also received a custom bag. Harrington gave out Odies Place bracelets as well.

Firefighters at District No. 3 were attending to normal duties when Harrington stopped by to deliver thank you cards.

“It definitely feels appreciative that the community wants to give back and even just the smallest thank you means a lot ot us,” firefighter Brendan O’Connor said. “We try our best to be together with the community and build relationships with them.”

Cards written by the children of first responders were given to the parents. Some students wrote short notes, while others wrote long essays about their experiences with a first responder.

Harrington said the thoughtfulness of the students really blew him away.

Dartmouth Superintendent Bonny Gifford was also praised by Harrington for her efforts in getting the schools involved.

It doesn’t stop there though, as Harrington will head to New Bedford to give out cards as well.

He will hand out over 2,000 cards at a first responder event on April 24. He will also give out another 300 cards to staff at St. Luke's Hospital.