DAR recognizes Clarendon firefighters, 1st responders with gift bags

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MANNING - The folks on Oak Street were surprised in mid-October when a couple of fire trucks, an ambulance and a few other response vehicles arrived on their short street.

It wasn't for a fire nor a medical emergency. The firefighters and first responders arrived to pick up 150 gift bags that were prepared by the Elizabeth Peyne Richardson Manning Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

"When we finished packing the gift bags and put them in tote bags, we couldn't move the bags," said Peggi Sorrell, vice regent of the local DAR chapter. "We called Chief Michael Johnson and asked him if they could please come and pick up the bags."

Sorrell said not only did Johnson drop by, but he was also accompanied by other firefighters and several first responders.

Each of the 150 bags included a bottle of water, a "pack of nabs," a Little Debbie brownie, a Hershey's kiss, a baggie of peppermints, a metal cross with a Bible verse inscription and more. Each of the bags was tied with either a red or blue tulle ribbon, and a thank-you card was attached to each bag.

Sorrell said she'd like to thank Manning IGA and Manning Piggly Wiggly for their generosity this year.

"It's so nice for organizations to reach out during difficult times," said Michael Johnson, chief of Clarendon County Fire Rescue. "2020 has been a very challenging year. Our department has undergone so many changes this year. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we combined our fire department with emergency medical services to become Clarendon County Fire Rescue, and our responders are on the front lines every day."

Johnson said that when Sorrell with the local DAR chapter reached out and wanted to show support for all of his department's responders, it really made a difference.

"Our people deal with challenging incidents every day," Johnson added. "They are humble servants who perform in emergency situations, and it was so nice when they are recognized for their hard work."

Each year local DAR chapters participate in "Service to America," a program to recognize community service organizations, volunteer groups and individuals who make a difference in their communities. And, every year, each chapter's vice regent gets to decide which group or project should be honored.

"I got to choose this year," Sorrell said. "I wanted to thank our firefighters and first responders for all that they do for us. They protect us, our families and our friends, and I want to thank them."

Sorrell said several members of the local chapter participated in the gift bag preparation, including Chapter Regent Rosemary Herring, Margaret Jackson, Melana Maxie, Mary Ann Duke, Terry Hill, Peggy Chiappetta and Harriet Rawlinson.

The bags were prepared at the home of Sorrell's mother, Margaret Jackson.

"Everyone thought Mama's house was on fire," Sorrell said with a laugh. "I was overjoyed at the turnout of firefighters and first responders who came to get the bags."