Olive Garden Gives Thanks to Panama City Firefighters

By  | 

Many people are enjoying time with family and friends on Labor Day because they have time off from work and school.

For some people in the community, Labor Day means another day on the job.

One area restaurant is giving thanks to Panama City's firefighters by providing a special meal.

Patricia Adkins and her Olive Garden staff are preparing a three course meal. That means bread sticks, salad, pasta, and even some dessert.

They're preparing it all for about a dozen of Panama City's firefighters at station number one to give thanks.

"We know your jobs are sometimes one that people don't remember to say thank you for," said Adkins.

It's a gesture Panama City firefighters say they really appreciate.

"Even though we work on holidays, that is a break because we usually fix our lunch each day. We got a chance to sit there and and them serve us. That was awesome," said Gary Swearingen, a Panama City firefighter.

Olive Garden has been giving free lunches to first responders for 12 years on Labor Day, but they say it's tough to choose only one agency to honor.

"It's just like throwing a dart at a board so to speak. We try to say thank you as best we can. We'd love to say thank you to everybody and we definitely want to do that," said Patricia Adkins, General Manager of Olive Garden.

This year they gave lunch out to station number two as well - a first for Olive Garden.

Firefighters say they typically work a 24 hour shift every three days. For some that happens to be on Labor Day.

"But we gotta have somebody here just in case something does happen. You know when you dial 911, we get on the truck, and head out. That's our job, that's what we do," said Steven Parsh, another Panama City firefighter.

Despite working on a holiday, firefighters say they make the best of it.

"We're a family as well. We make it a good time because we're still with our other family," said Swearingen.

Other agencies to receive free lunch from Olive Garden in the past include the Bay County Sheriff's Office and the Panama City Police Department.