One local group is planning to thank first responders in the quickest way to their hearts — through their stomachs.

Unicoi County’s First Responder Support Team will host the second annual First Responder Appreciation Dinner in downtown Erwin on Saturday, July 31.

The group plans to grill hamburgers and hot dogs as well as provide dessert for local first responders. There will also be door prizes and live music from the Unicoi County High School Bluegrass Band during the event.

“I just think it’s really important to show appreciation to our first responders for everything they do,” said UC FRST President Laura Elliott. “They get out, they put their lives on the line to serve our community and it’s just really good to have a day that we can all come together as a community and show our appreciation to them and have fellowship.”

Elliott said the appreciation dinner is made possible through both donations of time and commodities from the community. Roughly 25 businesses and organizations have sponsored or contributed to the event.

“This is really a community project, and the community is so gracious to come together and they’re generous, they help out, they volunteer, they donate items, they donate food, they donate money and especially donating their time too,” said Elliott. “It couldn’t be done without our community’s help.”

Currently, the group is still seeking donations of desserts for the event, and while many have signed up to help with the event, Elliott said morevolunteers are always welcomed.

“The more volunteers, the more our first responders can see who’s standing up there to really show their appreciation for them,” said Elliott.

The appreciation dinner will be held on Saturday, July 31 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. in the Unicoi County Courthouse parking lot and The Gathering Place in downtown Erwin.

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