Wayland Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors
#JustSayThanks Law Enforcement Appreciation Campaign
The Wayland Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors have announced their plans for the 2nd Annual community campaign to show thanks and appreciation to local law enforcement called #JustSayThanks.
The first campaign was launched throughout the month of October of 2016. This year, the Ambassadors dedicated the month of May to coincide with Police Appreciation week that falls during the week of May 15th.
During the month of May, the Chamber Ambassadors, along with many homeowners and businesses, plan to carry-out projects to show appreciation. According to Chamber Director Denise Behm, the goal was to visibly show law enforcement that we appreciate them. Behm stated, “When an officer puts on his or her badge each day, they are also risking their life to protect and serve us. They do not know if they will make it home at the end of their shift. They sacrifice and endure extreme situations that most of us would not want to imagine. The Ambassadors wanted to show our thanks to them and let them know that they are appreciated.”
One goal of the Ambassadors was to place 50 staked yard signs showing appreciation and support around the community. The response was overwhelming with many homeowners offering to purchase signs if there were not enough. Initially, only fifty signs were planned but there are now over 200 signs all around Michigan as well as in Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Florida. According to Behm, “many people would drive by and notice the signs and wanted one for themselves or their business. I have had truck drivers from other states come into the chamber office wanting signs to take home. The show of support has been incredible and heart-warming.”
There will also be blue LED lights displayed in downtown Wayland with blue bows, banner flags, and The Thin Blue Line flag, window clings for businesses and homes/vehicles. To complete the campaign, the Ambassadors plan to host a dinner for all local law enforcement officers (Wayland City Police Department, Gun Lake Tribal Police Department, MI State Police Department, and the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department as well as other nearby departments). The complimentary dinner will focus on an appreciation of officers. Spouses, significant others, and children will be invited. Many local and county-wide restaurants donated entrees, side-dishes, desserts, and beverages to the campaign to show their support. In 2016, there was enough food to feed 200+ officers and their families. This year, the Ambassadors hope to serve even more officers.
Many homeowners questioned what else they can do to be involved. According to Behm, there are many ways anyone can be involved, including; hanging blue lights outside in a tree, on a house, in a window or anyplace visible, decorate your trees, mailbox posts, etc with blue ribbons; replace an outdoor light(s) with a blue bulb(s), and lastly, the Ambassadors would like to encourage people to utilize their social media accounts to say a quick “thanks, we appreciate you!” to law enforcement. This can easily be done using Facebook, Twitter, or other popular social media sites. When someone types in the #JustSayThanks it will automatically be linked with others also showing thanks. If a homeowner decorates their house, it would be great to post a picture of it on social media with the #JustSayThanks tagline. This project would also be a great way for families to spend time together while teaching children about appreciating law enforcement and letting them know that officers are there to protect the community.