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Every May thousands of police officers and supporters converge on Washington, D.C., to memorialize law enforcement officers who died on the job. Known as Peace Officers Memorial Day, the May 15 event falls in the middle of National Police Week.

In the spirit of the occasion this year, the First Baptist Church of Swannanoa chapter of the Woman’s Missionary Union is holding a lunch Monday, May 21 to show appreciation for local law enforcement.

Four departments - Black Mountain and Asheville Police, Buncombe County Sheriff and the N.C. State Highway Patrol - are invited to the catered lunch, from 12:30-2 p.m.

Although lunch is provided only for the officers, though the public is welcome to “come by and show their appreciation” for the work officers do, Woman’s Missionary Union member Judy Bridges said.

“We want to invite the community to drop by and offer their thanks to the officers who are there,” she said. “While the meal is for the officers, we’ll have lots of homemade desserts and people who drop in could probably have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake.”

The Woman’s Missionary Union is an international organization founded in 1888 to encourage Christian believers to become more involved in mission work. The First Baptist Church of Swannanoa chapter, according to director Edwina Messer, does that through community outreach.

“We try to help people in need and share God’s love with them,” said Messer, who has been involved with the union for around 30 years. “We’re try find places we can meet a need.”

The lunch, catered by Jason’s Deli in Asheville, involves the dozen members of the church’s chapter, Bridges said. It’s one of many outreach efforts the group undertakes every year. Around Christmas every year, it participates in the Red Box program, which provides toiletries for incarcerated women. The chapter supports Asheville-based Crossfire Ministry and a missionary in Haiti.

“We also have a program called ‘Queen for a Day,’ which reaches out to women in shelters,” she said. “We do free gifts and things like that and treat them like a queen for a day. That’s once a year in October.”

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