JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 church spent Tuesday saying "thank you" to those who protect their community.
The 9th annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Day took place at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro.
The church treated law enforcement members from every department to a steak dinner.
Don Blackmore, ministries pastor at Central Baptist Church, said this is something they hold every year to give all officers a pat on the back.
"It's just our way as a church to express gratitude to all law enforcement officers," Pastor Blackmore said. "To thank them all, the Jonesboro Police Department, Craighead County, State Police, Arkansas University Police Department, all of these agencies. We're grateful for everything that they do. So, we're trying to show our gratitude and appreciation towards them for their work in the community and all they do."
Corporal David McDaniel, public information officer with the Jonesboro Police Department, the church members have been great to law enforcement members.
"They really step up. They're involved in our chaplain program. Don Blackmore works close with our police department and he's an employee here at this church," McDaniel said. "Each year they feel compelled just to kind of reach out and say 'Hey, we appreciate the hard work you guys do and we want to show you what we think.' And they cook us a meal and it's fantastic."
Corporal McDaniel said a simple "thank you" can go a long way.
"It's powerful," McDaniel said. "I like to remind people that we live here, too. We are a part of this community. We don't travel out of town or out of state and go do a job and come home. We're working to better the community and we want to have a relationship with the people in the community. We want to know their needs and desires for the department because ultimately that's who we work for. We want to know what direction they want us to go in. And simple things like this open up dialogue."
Pastor Blackmore said it was great to see how much officers look forward to the event.
"The officers come every year excited," Pastor Blackmore said. "It's always fun to see them come and enjoy this day and fellowship. To see them sit around and visit with each other and for us to do that in this environment."
Corporal McDaniel said they even serve additional meals in order to reach all the officers on duty.
"They do it in three shifts," McDaniel said. "Because, you know, we run 24 hours a day. They think of that stuff. They'll have a meal for the second shift guys in the evening and a meal late at night for the third shift guys. It's just fantastic. You can't imagine how that feels as a police officer that people in your community support you in such a way."
Pastor Blackmore said he and the volunteers who make the event happen each year get just as much out of it as the officers they're thanking.
"It encourages us to know that we're serving them," Pastor Blackmore said. "We love that we're doing something for them. Sometimes their job can be 'thankless'. And so, this is our way of letting them know we appreciate them and enjoy serving them. This is our ninth year and it's been exciting over the years to see the officers look forward to this event every year. Cause they just like to be appreciated for what they do. And so, we as a church try to show our gratitude for all that the officers do."
Members of the church served lunch at 11 a.m., with meals planned for the later shifts at 5 and 10:30 p.m.