Photo: David McGregor Gwinnett County Firefighters Jason Gantt, left, and Sam Ingram converse after eating a meal provided by the Olive Garden on Monday afternoon at Station No. 24 in Buford.
BUFORD -- On Monday, The Olive Garden at the Mall of Georgia treated the firefighters at Gwinnett County Fire Station No. 24 with a meal as part of a Hospitaliano! Labor Day Event.
Volunteers from the Lawrenceville Senior Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta: Lawrenceville and waiters from The Olive Garden served a complete Italian meal to on-duty fire crew and their families at the station. They were fed breadsticks, salad, spaghetti, lasagna and tiramisu.
"This is the perfect way to partner with the community and say thank you to those who keep us safe," said Jim Myles, general manager for The Olive Garden at the Mall of Georgia.
Although the firefighters had left for two calls, the EMTs and the families were touched by the restaurant's generosity.
"It was very delicious," Ashley Hilsman, Gwinnett County EMT said. "We appreciate Olive Garden coming out and feeding us. It's nice to be appreciated."
Lieutenant Michael Spain's wife, Sandi and son, Anthony stopped by to enjoy the dinner, even though Spain was out on the scene.
"I think this is great," Sandi Spain said. "I work for public safety (as a crime scene technician for Gwinnett County police) as well and I think it's wonderful. It's a good outreach program and it connects the community to public safety. It's very much appreciated."
She added, "I don't know if they (The Olive Garden and volunteers) realize it, but I know the guys here really appreciate it."
Firefighters aren't the only ones who are clocking in during the holiday. Other public safety workers are at their jobs, just like any other day.
"Hospitals are never closed, so it's not considered a holiday," said Jennie Honea, Registered Nurse in the Labor and Delivery Department at Gwinnett Medical Center. "We were busier over the weekend than today. It's hit or miss."
Grocery stores, like Publix, don't observe the holiday either. The store was completely staffed up in every department, employees restocking shelves and there were three check-out lanes open each equipped with a bagger.
"I don't think it's a major holiday and people have to eat," said Publix Assistant Customer Service Manager, Michael Spence Jr. "We stay busy during the day because after Sunday people still want to buy alcohol."
Most restaurants and coffee shops, especially corporate chains, only close two days out of the year: Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
"Labor Day is a slow and steady day, but at least we're lucky that we still have a job," Miguel Guziman, Kitchen Manager of Applebee's Lawrenceville said.