Columbus woman working to collect heartfelt messages for first responders

COLUMBUS, Ind. — A Columbus woman is hoping a few words of support will help to show area first responders just how much they’re appreciated.

From her small decorated table, administrative associate Toby Johnson is asking her fellow employees at the Cummins Technology Center to hand write a heartfelt message to local first responders. The cards will then be delivered to local police, fire fighters, EMTs and paramedics, dispatchers and the National Guard.

Johnson created the campaign in part to honor the first responders who gave their lives when the World Trade Center towers fell on 9/11.

“I want to remember them. And all of the first responders and others that helped,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s campaign is something that is near and dear to her heart. She is a retired Chief Warrant Officer for the U.S. Army who served 22 years as a senior special agent in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. In the past, she organized a similar effort for overseas troops in conjunction with Operation Gratitude and the USO.

“They have our back, but we have theirs too. We appreciate them for their dedication to duty and jumping in harm’s way for us,” she said.

To help give the cards an added touch, Johnson reached out to local agencies for pictures of first responders out on duty. Some of the cards also include iconic images from 9/11.

At the end of the day, Johnson says it’s her goal is to honor those who work to protect Hoosiers every day, while also honoring and remembering the sacrifice of those who gave their lives on that tragic September day 17 years ago.

Johnson says she hopes to collect 200 to 300 cards in the next few days and deliver them to first responders next week.