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Albany church to honor hometown heroes

Covenant Presbyterian Church on Dawson Road will host an appreciation dinner Wednesday for public safety officials. (Staff photo: Jim Hendricks)

Covenant Presbyterian Church on Dawson Road will host an appreciation dinner Wednesday for public safety officials. (Staff photo: Jim Hendricks)

ALBANY — An Albany church will be saying thank you to public safety personnel with a free dinner on the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Dr. William Coker, pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, said Thursday that law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs in Dougherty and Lee counties, along with troopers with the Georgia State Patrol, are being invited to attend the spaghetti supper, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday in the gym at the church, which is located at 2126 Edgewater Drive.

“We do whatever we can to support these folks,” Coker said. “They’re the ones out there on the front lines.”

The event will include a 15-minute program at 6:15 p.m. “We’ll sing ‘God Bless America’ and show video clips of 9/11,” Coker said. The dinner, billed as a salute to hometown heroes, is “just to show an expression of appreciation” for the public safety personnel and the program will be a “simple, short” one, he said.

Gideons, who usually present Bibles to public safety personnel later in the fall, will be on hand to provide Bibles, he said. “When they heard about it (the program), they said, ‘We’ll just do it now,’” Coker said.

Church officials are asking agencies to provide a rough estimate of how many of their personnel will be attending the dinner by Monday. Coker said early estimates are that as many as 300 might be able to attend.

“A lot of them will be on duty,” Coker said. “They’re going to be more on alert that day.”

Those who are on duty and unable to stay for the dinner will be able to get dinner to go, he said.

While this is the first time Covenant has conducted an appreciation dinner for public safety personnel, it is part of the church’s outreach mission. “We try to do something, a mission or evangelism program, every month,” the pastor said.

Previous events have included helping feed the homeless, a free car wash and even returning shopping carts to the grocery store for shoppers buying groceries. The church also is seeing its Whiz Kids tutorial program for elementary school students continuing to grow at a fast rate.

“It’s gotten much bigger,” Coker said of Whiz Kids. “We are hardly keeping up.”

Interest from Dougherty County School System elementary school principals has grown to the point where the church is scrambling to find tutors. “We’re looking for churches to partner with the schools to provide the tutors,” he said.

Public safety agencies can contact church officials at (229) 436-5731 to provide estimates on the number of attendees for Wednesday’s dinner.