Be part of 365 days of caring

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The community is about to come together in a big way to honor and support paramedics, firefighters and police officers who often put their own lives on the line to keep you and your neighbors safe and healthy.

Be part of a year-long, communitywide tribute to those who protect and serve by participating in a unique fundraiser.

With help from Garden Plaza of Post Falls, citizens will unite to create a 365-day desk calendar featuring creative photos of local citizens and the first-responders that serve them.

“Our community inside Garden Plaza is just like a family,” said Garden Plaza sales manager, April Howard.

“When one of our family is hurt, sick, or in need of assistance, the first-responders are always there at the drop of a hat. We want to show how much we appreciate them and how thankful we are that they are always a call away, from our family to theirs.”

Each day of the year offers a different opportunity for calendar participants to show their support in unique ways:

• Celebrate your child’s birthday by having his or her picture published on their special day.

• Mark the day you opened your business with a photo published on the anniversary date.

• Rotaries, Chambers of Commerce, Kiwanis Clubs, nonprofits and other service organizations can recognize their groups’ good works by coming together for a photo.

• Celebrate any other special day, person or milestone with a picture in the calendar.

The cost to participate in the calendar project, and receive a copy when it’s done, is $20.

Proceeds will benefit Holidays and Heroes. Organized each year by local police, and fire and rescue agencies, Holidays and Heroes helps make the holiday season a happier, more joyful one for disadvantaged children.

Howard said Garden Plaza chose to raise money for Holidays and Heroes because the program is “close to the hearts” of local first-responders.

“We are happy to be part of this movement,” she said.

Barbara Wolfert, 83, said the service paramedics provide is invaluable to her and her fellow residents at Garden Plaza.

“You think you’re dying — this could be it. But they take the time to say, ‘You’re going to be fine, we’ll get you to the hospital.’ They just know what to say. That’s so comforting,” said Wolfert, an eight-year Garden Plaza resident.

To people who need them, those caring gestures make a world of difference.

Kootenai County Fire and Rescue Chief Warren Merritt said he was “all in” when he heard about Garden Plaza’s calendar fundraiser.

“Holidays and Heroes is an opportunity to interact with people in our community and make someone’s Christmas a little brighter,” Merritt said.

Post Falls Police Lt. Mark Brantl said he was glad to hear about Garden Plaza’s fundraising efforts.

“It was kind of a pleasant surprise,” he said. “We try to do a lot for the Holidays and Heroes event. I thought it was a great idea.”

Brantl said Post Falls police officers regularly visit Garden Plaza of Post Falls, not only for medical and emergency needs, but for events hosted at the retirement community. Police also partner with Garden Plaza to train staff on how to better protect and serve their residents.

“I know I’ve been there for my own kid’s events,” he said. “We work hand-in-hand with them on almost a daily basis.”

The relationship between local first-responders and Garden Plaza illustrates what Holidays and Heroes and the calendar project are about -

community members coming together to care for one another.

The calendar project gives everyone in the community the chance to be part of that circle of care.

Garden Plaza will host a photo shoot on July 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants will receive a complimentary BBQ lunch, a calendar and photo on their date of choice.

The calendar is expected to be completed and ready for distribution in early November.

To be part of this calendar made by and for the community, or for more information, email April Howard at achoward@centurypa.com.

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