This effort began in 2013, NBC 5 reported, and more volunteers have caught on each year. Last year, thousands of volunteers served three tons of food to 7,000 police officers and firefighters.
The founder of Feed-a-Hero, Jim Searles, told NBC 5 that the effort grows yearly.
“Every year it just gets bigger, badder, and this year it got better,” he said.
Around two dozen departments in the North Texas region are participating this Christmas. More participants means volunteers have less to prepare, according to Searles.
“For any other business, you don’t want your numbers to go down. Yes, we do because that means communities are waking up,” he told NBC 5. “Communities are putting together community groups, churches, and the cities are putting together meals for their own heroes.”
In 2013, Feed-a-Hero started with Searles and his children delivering a Christmas dinner to six firefighters in Denton. Each year after that, the effort expanded, according to Searles.
“Every year, we just continue to be blessed,” he explained. “Every year we say, ‘What’s next?'”
Searles told NBC 5 that when it seemed they had done as much as possible, they were able to serve even more first responders.
“Just when you think you’ve maxed out, and there’s just nothing more we can do, here comes the next phase.”
Over the years, delivering these meals has become a North Texas tradition, NBC 5 reported.
As Feed-a-Hero grows, it is able to provide help to first responders throughout the rest of the year as well. Relief includes providing food and water, according to Searles.
The website shares that it has helped more than 26,000 first responders since the philanthropy effort started. Now, it works with 480 stations and 140 agencies over nine counties.
“Our mission is to support all DFW police officers, firefighters, and our EMS personnel,” the Feed-a-Hero website states. “Just like our first responders, we support them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Multiple North Texas fixtures sponsor Feed-a-Hero. These include Inwood National Bank, Music City Mall, and Rudy’s BBQ.
In September, Feed-a-Hero provided meals for 200 first responders at an event in Fort Worth, according to a Facebook post from the organization. McDonald’s meals and Rudy’s BBQ were distributed during the Police Motorcycle Rodeo.
Searles told NBC 5 how the organization got started.
“I’m just a guy that started out with a kind act. And you know, if we can just be kind to each other, look at what can happen,” he added.
Volunteers of any age can volunteer with food preparation and distribution for Feed-a-Hero. The Christmas meals are prepared and delivered on December 24 and December 25.
In addition to sponsoring the organization and volunteering for distribution events, North Texans can also make individual donations, according to the website. Feed-a-Hero invites regional organizations and agencies to partner with them as they benefit growing numbers of first responders.