RANDOLPH, NJ- Mission Gratitude is an annual event hosted by Pediatric Dental Associates of Randolph, designed to honor and thank first responders and other service personnel.
“Too often we don't stop and appreciate the service of our first responders unless we are in a position where we rely on them in a crisis,” said Margo Steinmark, Director of Marketing. “Mission Gratitude allows families to focus on the work these men and women do in a relaxed setting. Many of our first responders- those in our local fire departments and EMT squads are volunteers - which makes them all the more special.”
The event takes a lot of coordination and planning to put together each year. Steinmark begins the planning and organization six months before Mission Gratitude-confirming that all the fire departments, rescue squads and police department will attend, lining up the entertainment, booking the DJ, tent and chairs, singers for the national anthem and publicizing the event everywhere she can.
“Because we want the event to focus solely on the first responders, military personnel and service dogs, we do not have any sponsors; the expense of the event is funded solely by Pediatric Dental Associates of Randolph,” said Steinmark. “We do have a lot of help at the event from our staff and from local high school students.”
The event would not be possible without the participation of the Randolph Fire Department, Randolph Rescue Squad, Randolph Police Department and the local Puppy Tails club of the Seeing Eye - which attends every year with several puppies volunteers raised to become guide dogs through The Seeing Eye of Morristown.
Each year, part of the days’ activities includes a table set up with items for kids to write letters to soldiers overseas. The letters to soldiers took on more significance this year as Steinmark’s nephew is a Marine currently serving in Afghanistan.
“We were given the names of 26 members of his troop to write cards to,” said Steinmark. “At Mission Gratitude we collected over 75 cards. We will be allowing families to continue to make cards in our office for the next week or so before we mail them off to these Marines. If anyone would like to stop by to make a card or to drop a card off at the office we would welcome that.”
Overall, it was another successful year for Mission Gratitude.
“The event went great, the weather couldn't have been more perfect, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves,” said Steinmark. “We are so grateful that the first responders also really enjoy Mission Gratitude. They love meeting the families that come, and told us they can't wait to come back again next year.”