Nine-year-old Natalea Decker of Arkansas has created a program called Adopt-A-Hero which connects first responders with children who send them letters, thank you cards, office supplies, and snacks.
The idea for the program began just a few weeks ago when Natalea was driving home from school with her mom, Tiffani Decker.
“We were coming home from school and she had this random idea of wanting to get a couple of police officers Christmas presents,” Tiffani told Breitbart News. “Her dad works for one of the counties in our local area, so she’s gathered a really good rapport with the police officers that are at the same location as her dad.”
“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,” Natalea told KY3. “It’s important because they do a lot for our community.”
Tiffani told Natalea that she could pick out presents for a few officers, but Natalea did not want to leave anyone out. “I told her how many police officers are in our surrounding area, which are several, so she wanted to see about reaching out to her Girl Scout Troop and see if they could help,” Tiffani told Breitbart News.
After meeting with her troop, Natalea decided it was best to expand the efforts to reach all first responders, including firefighters and paramedics. “Natalea wanted to expand her project, and she wanted to try and give everybody, all of the heroes in the area, love, and thanks,” Tiffani shared with Breitbart News.
“I called several of the stations in our area to get rosters for the police department, the firefighters, the EMS. Once she wanted to expand the program, we made those calls to get the rosters,” said Tiffani.
“It only took a week or so to get it all together,” Natalea informed Breitbart News.
Adopt-A-Hero has grown at a rapid pace thanks to social media. Tiffani created a Facebook group called the “NorthWest Adopt-A-Hero” program on September 18. In less than two weeks, the page has already acquired 381 members that have gotten behind the cause.
“We have roughly 300 heroes over Boone County, Newton, Carroll, Searcy, Madison, Baxter, Marion County all have been adopted so far,” Tiffani told KY3. The program has grown into Oklahoma and Missouri.
First responders receive letters, thank you cards, and gifts such as office essentials, snacks, and things to keep in their vehicles, according to KY3.
“We have a ton of people in our local area, so whenever they get ready to actually help and want to adopt a hero, we provide them with one of the names on the roster,” Tiffani explained to Breitbart. “Unless they already have a particular name picked out that they want to do because most people have a rapport with a police officer or a firefighter, and other first responders in the area.”
The first group of first responders to be adopted by the program are from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Glenn Wheeler expressed the dedication of those who serve in the office. “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,” he told Ky3. “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.”
“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,” Sheriff Wheeler told KY3.