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May 24—Volunteers from the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Brown Barn Tavern in Munson Township are providing free meals this week for the Geauga County Sheriff's Office.
The meals were organized by local representatives from the foundation, including board member Barbara Titus and James Gilchrist, a former deputy in the Geauga County Sheriff's Office who connects the foundation with local first responders.
Brown Barn Tavern catered the meals and served the food alongside the foundation and Geauga County Commissioner Jim Dvorak.
"We're all about giving back to the community as much as we can," said Mark Stanton, who owns the restaurant with his wife Jackie Sas and is a U.S. Army veteran.
The volunteers provided the meals for lunch and dinner on May 24 and plan to provide dinner again May 25. Titus estimated that they would serve a total of 145 people.
"We're very appreciative. I think it's a great organization, we're happy to support it," Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand said. "They're coming here three different times just to make sure they hit all the different shifts and the different employees, and we really appreciate it."
The event was a part of the Gary Sinise Foundation's Serving Heroes program, which provides meals for first responders, veterans and active duty troops serving in the United States and overseas.
Titus, Gilchrist and other local representatives have organized Serving Heroes meals for first responders in police and sheriff's offices, fire departments, safety centers and state highway patrols throughout Northeast Ohio and in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.
In addition to the Serving Heroes meals, Titus noted that the Gary Sinise Foundation provides other services to first responders and service members, including smart homes for wounded veterans and Disney World trips for the children and families of fallen troops.
The foundation's namesake and leader is actor Gary Sinise, known for his role as Lieutenant Dan in the movie "Forrest Gump."
"This is my hometown. I wanted to ensure that we provide a nice, hot meal for those that serve us in this community," said Titus. "I'm eternally grateful, as is Gary, and we know how much they sacrifice to get here and everything that they do, so we want to say thanks and let them know they're appreciated."