By Ed Brock
Briefcase in hand, John Malone, chaplain for Morrow Masonic Lodge 734 has been pounding the pavement to make ready for the lodge's first "Honor the City of Morrow Fire and Police Personnel" dinner and ceremony.
"This is a long time coming," Malone said. "What we're doing as a group of Masons is taking the time to say thank you (to police and firefighters) for what you do every day."
On Saturday the lodge will open their hall on Morrow Road at 5 p.m. to feed the city's public safety workers and hand out goody bags full of gifts for them.
Area merchants have been contributing the gifts, said A. Hendry Betts II, worshipful master of the lodge.
"Some of it is things they can keep at their departments to give to children," Betts said.
Betts said the lodge hasn't participated in many community events before but lately that's changing. Last month they helped out with the city's "Summerfest on the Green" Independence Day celebration.
The banquet is a continuation of that new effort.
"It just seemed like the right thing to do," Betts said. "We have firefighters and police dying every day and nobody reaches out to just say thank you."
It's always nice when somebody takes the time to show police officers that their efforts are appreciated, Morrow Police Lt. Ben Mance said.
Of course, when (the Masons) came to us we told them they didn't have to, but they insisted," Mance said.
The department's command staff often gets to attend public relations events and receive kudos from the community, so the best thing about the Mason's banquet is that it's for line personnel too.
"It's good for them to see that," Mance said.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks communities around the country frequently held such events or brought random gifts of food by fire and police stations. That kind of behavior has become less common, Morrow Fire Lt. Elton Poss said, making the Mason's dinner all the more a welcome.
"Any time somebody can take the time to do something it's appreciated," Poss said.
Morrow's new Fire Chief Mark Herendeen also said he is honored by the Masons' invitation.
"A lot of people forget about Sept. 11," Herendeen said. "A lot of people forget what we do every day."
Anybody who wants to lend a hand for the banquet can call Betts at (770) 961-4854.