While many people are spending the day grilling out on the porch or having a picnic, Wheeling Police and Ohio County Sheriffs Deputies are working around the clock. But thanks to Olive Garden, they can enjoy a free, hot lunch at the office. It's part of a 15-year nationwide initiative by the company to show appreciation for first responders.
"They mean so much to us. They keep us safe. They're always there. It doesn't matter if it's a holiday. It doesn't matter if it's the middle of the night. They respond to all of our needs, and we can't be more grateful for that," said Terri Mentz, Manager of the Highland's Olive Garden.
Since Olive Garden restaurants began the effort in 2002, they have served over 10,000 complimentary meals to first responders nationwide. Here in Wheeling, the officers say they're happy to do their jobs, but more than appreciate the support of the community.
"It's really great when the community reaches out and says thank you to us. I know on days like today when a lot of people are off enjoying the holiday weekend, we're still here working, and it's just nice to know that some other members of the community acknowledge that and show their appreciation. It means a lot to us," said Rod Vaught of the Ohio County Sheriff's Department.
Officers also said that enjoying the delicious food makes working on a holiday that much more enjoyable.
Mentz says Olive Garden appreciates the work of all first responders, including the fire departments and EMTs.