Canton hosts lunch for first responders to thank them for service

Canton R-V Fire Protection District Chief Joe LaCount, center, eats lunch with Canton R-V Elementary School students Tuesday at the school in Canton, Mo. The school hosted a lunch for first responders as a way to say thank you and recognize the sacrifices made while doing their jobs. | H-W Photo/Ashley Szatala
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 11, 2018 9:10 pm Updated: Sep. 11, 2018 11:00 pm

CANTON, Mo. -- The Canton R-V Elementary School students were excited that first responders such as law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs visited them during lunch Tuesday.

As soon as lunchtime started, they spaced themselves out at tables to leave room for the adults to sit with them. When one of the visitors got close, the students scooted together to make more room.

"It was easy to find a spot," Canton R-V Fire Protection District Chief Joe LaCount said with a laugh.

The school hosted the lunch as a way to say thank you and recognize the sacrifices made by first responders and public safety personnel while doing their jobs.

"This is the first year we've hosted the lunch," Superintendent Jesse Uhlmeyer said. "Whenever we have an incident at school, these are the people who respond. When the kids see them, they'll know who they are and know they can trust them. The lunch is also a nice way to say thank you for all that they've done for the school."

Those attending the lunch agreed that it's beneficial to interact with community youths.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Zach Harrison said, "Having a positive relationship with kids is always a good thing. If something bad happens, they can be part of the solution."

Lewis County Ambulance District EMT William Fountain added, "Interacting with kids helps them be more comfortable around us and show them we're just like them."

The students asked the guests many questions, such as why firefighters wear badges. Whenever the next group of elementary students arrived in the cafeteria, the guests picked up their lunch trays and moved tables to where students wanted them to sit.

"It's going to take a while to eat because the kids have so many questions, which is a great thing," LaCount said.

First responders had a choice between the salad bar, a stuffed taco and bacon cheeseburger for lunch.

"It's definitely a better lunch than what we had at school while growing up," Fountain said.