Care packages assembled for Philadelphia medical heroes, 911 dispatchers

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Nine hundred care packages were assembled Tuesday morning at Rivers Casino in Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood. The packages will be distributed to Philadelphia healthcare heroes and police 911 dispatchers.

"They have to show up for work, they can't work from home. It's really nice when folks recognize that," said Philadelphia Police Captain Edward Appleton, who oversees police radio.

"They're going to see that a grateful American took the time to serve too, to make this bracelet, to handwrite a letter, acknowledging their service," said Kevin Schmiegel, the CEO of Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit that works to build bridges between civilians and those who protect our country.

The nonprofit partnered with Philadelphia police during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Rivers Casino donated $2,500 to the cause.



"They're the voice behind the radio, and they're often the unsung heroes and don't necessarily get the recognition that many first responders and frontline workers receive," added Emily Doñes of Rivers Casino Philadelphia.

Dozens of volunteers pitched in, including members of the police and fire departments, as well as local unions.

"911 dispatchers have a lot of single mothers. They're doing things to make sure their kids are taken care of with no school, sometimes working 12-hour days," shared Frank Halbherr of District Council 33.

Six hundred of the packages will go to healthcare workers at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. The other 300 are being distributed to the 911 dispatchers.

"When you see a handwritten note, or a small trinket, or something tangible that lasts, it reminds you that there are people out there that are thinking of you," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.
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