Community says ‘thank you’ to first responders with 2,100 free suits, shirts


Organized by Teamsters Joint Council 13 Human Rights Commission, event recognized some 2,100 police, fire fighters and EMTs

HAPPY SHOPPERS, more than 2,100 women and men first responders from across the region turned out to get a free suit and shirt thanks to generous donations from Joseph A. Banks and Men’s Warehouse in a community “thank you” program organized by Teamsters Joint Council 13 and several community churches. – Roy Gillespie photo

A story of gratitude and Christmas giving happened in November that nearly no one heard about, but it bought joy to some 2,100 first responders.

Men and women first responders – police officers, fire fighters and EMTs – from across the St. Louis metro area were invited to pick up a free suit and shirt as the community’s way of saying “thank you” for their dedicated, unheralded, often life-threatening, service to their communities.

The program – providing a new suit for first responders (women got suits for their spouses) – is the first of its kind in the U.S. and was organized by Teamsters Joint Council’s 13’s Human Rights Commissioner Roy Gillespie in cooperation with six community groups and Judge Jimmie Edwards, St. Louis’ Director of Public Safety. The event was held Nov. 30 at the St. Louis County Urban League offices on Jennings Station Road.

“We felt the need to show our first responders that their efforts, often putting their lives on the line, are appreciated,” Gillespie told the Labor Tribune.  Gillespie, a member of Teamsters Local 600, also sits on the Teamsters International Union’s Human Rights and Diversity Committee.

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT for their free suit from an incredible selection, St. Louis County police officers are all smiles. – Roy Gillespie photos

“Too often, far too often, they do their job like the professionals they are but few ever say ‘thank you.’ We felt it important to do that with a free high-quality suit and shirt they can use for their own special occasions. They loved it.”

Joseph A. Banks and Men’s Warehouse donated the suits. A similar program was held here last May. Other participants included Keys of Life Missionary Baptist Church, 15th Street Baptist Church, Kory Johnson Foundation, Urban League of Metro St. Louis, the Teamsters National Black Caucus St. Louis Chapter and We Come Together.

“When they came in, everyone had to show ID to prove they were a first responder,” Gillespie noted with humor. “First time cops were ever asked to show IDs!”

This is not the first give-away program Gillespie has organized on behalf of the Teamsters. He’s been doing similar programs all across the country.

This past Saturday Gillespie-organized a massive donation to area police departments of more than 20,000 Disney donated children’s CDs and Blu-ray discs and toys for police to needy children and families in their precincts.

In previous years, tens of thousands of children’s toys were donated by Toys ‘R Us, to distribute to local police departments. Unfortunately, following the Toys ‘R Us bankruptcy, that resource is no longer available, but Disney stepped in to fill the gap.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here