Alle-Kiski Valley group celebrates 7th year of thanking police officers
Police officer’s wife Felicia Junod knows just how much it means to her husband when someone shows appreciation for what he does or tells him “thank you.”
That’s one of the reasons she decided to start a group that assembles and bring gifts to Alle-Kiski Valley police officers and state troopers on every National Thank A Police Officer Day.
“Just being out with him in the community and seeing someone come up to him and tell him, ‘Thank you for what you do,’ or ‘We’re saying prayers for you.’ I know that means a lot for him,” said Junod, who is married to Allegheny Township police Officer Mark Junod.
“We just really wanted the officers to know that there is a community of people who value them, who appreciate what they do; they appreciate the sacrifices that they make.”
National Thank A Police Officer Day takes place Saturday. It will be the seventh year Junod and her team have passed out gifts.
Junod said she is in awe of how much the project has grown during that time.
The first year, the team gave gifts to about 120 officers from 13 departments. This year, they will give gifts to more than 800 police officers from 45 departments in Allegheny, Westmoreland and Armstrong counties.
“We started out very small,” Junod said. “Then, it just kind of grew every year.”
This year’s gifts include a treat bag, handmade thank-you cards and a portable coffee mug.
The treat bags are made up of things police officers “use every day,” such as notebooks, pens, lip balm, hand sanitizer, candy and gum.
The items were donated by local schools, Junod said.
The thank-you cards were made by local students. Junod estimates there will be more than 1,000 to distribute this year.
“Some of them are really sweet,” Junod said of the cards. “I know that’s my favorite part, and I know it’s a lot of the officers’ favorite part, too, just to get the cards every year.”
National Thank A Police Officer Day was established in 2012 by the Whole Truth Project, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to promoting pro-police messaging.
Junod encourages people to say thank you to police officers not just on Saturday, but whenever they can.
“If you see any officer, just tell them thank you,” she said. “It really does mean a lot to them.”