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Why this community feeds dozens of first responders every year
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Members of the Cresswind at Lake Lanier community stand with Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish, center, and other officers after donating meals to the department Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Photo courtesy Gainesville Police Department

From Monday, July 27 to Friday, July 31, Cresswind at Lake Lanier community members delivered meals and snacks to Gainesville Police Department, Hall County Fire Station No. 4 and Gainesville Fire Station No. 4.

Doug Geganto, member of the 55-year-old and up housing development, said this summer marks the fourth time the neighborhood has held a first responder appreciation event. 

“They’re (law enforcement) getting such a bad rap around the country today,” Geganto said. “We want the Gainesville community to know that we appreciate everything they do, not only for Cresswind, but for the entire city.”

Lois Ehlers, who lives in Cresswind, said the neighborhood raised $4,000 through its residents to purchase meals from Long Street Café and Johnny’s BBQ. They also offered raffle prizes to the first responders through the help of Chick-fil-A, Culver’s, Honey Baked Ham and Longstreet Café.

The annual event is usually hosted in Cresswind’s clubhouse; however, because of the pandemic, they decided to deliver the food to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Ehlers said around 10 residents of Cresswind delivered food throughout the week to ensure all shifts were taken care of. 

“The outpour of support from our community has been humbling,” Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said in a statement. “We have a strong relationship with our Cresswind community and greatly appreciate their efforts with constantly showing our men and women they are loved and supported.”

Geganto said recognizing first responders is one of the many services Cresswind residents provide to Gainesville. They keep a perpetual community fund to serve the area, which they used recently to purchase iPads and computers for children raised by grandparents unequipped for helping with online learning. During the pandemic, they additionally packed 1,000 boxes of food for Family Promise of Hall County, a nonprofit devoted to serving homeless children and families.

“It’s a giving community,” Ehlers said. “It’s amazing to see how much Cresswind can do it we put our minds together. One of our slogans is ‘Cresswind strong,’ and we’ve adopted Gainesville as our home.”

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