9-year-old northern Arkansas girl starts program to thank first responders
JASPER, Ark. (KY3) - Natalea Decker started Adopt-A-Hero in north Arkansas. The program coordinates children with first responders to give them gifts and thank you cards.
Between the Buffalo National River and various hiking trails, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office stays very busy.
”It puts us in a unique situation compared to a lot of sheriff’s offices because my guys have to be well versed in a lot more than your typical law enforcement,” said Sheriff Glenn Wheeler. “We’re a very rural community, which means we’re a very poor community. My men and women don’t do this for the pay, they’re invested and care about this community.”
That is something Natalea Decker, 9, understands. Natalea’s dad works at the Newton County Jail. She has several friends on the force, so she had an idea to say thank you. It started when she wanted to give Christmas gifts to her favorite deputies and with the help of her mother and her Girl Scout Troop, an idea blossomed.
“I realized not that many people like cops, and don’t want to give thanks and love so I wanted to give thanks and love,” said Decker. “It’s important because they do a lot for our community.”
So with the help of her mother, she started Adopt-a-Hero. The small project initially started at the Newton County Sheriff’s Office to assign kids a hero to “adopt” and say thank you.
”We made several calls and realized there was not a program set and she was pretty upset,” said Tiffani Decker, her mother. “So I said well, what if we make our own.”
Through the program several agencies have been adopted, and can be assigned to a child. First responders commonly ask for basic gifts like pens, notepads, snacks, and things to keep in their response vehicles.
With the aid of social media, it has continued to grow not only across north Arkansas but in Missouri and Oklahoma as well.
”We have roughly 300 heroes over Boone County, Newton, Carroll, Searcy, Madison, Baxter, Marion County all have been adopted so far,” said Decker’s mother.
”Thank you for helping us with Adopt-A-Hero, it started with this little heart to this big amazing heart,” said Decker. “I’m so thankful and I couldn’t have done it without you!“
”For her to see the sacrifice these people make and want to say thank you. It speaks not just to the heart of that girl but to the heart of our community,” said Sheriff Wheeler.
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