By Zach Solon | February 10, 2021 at 3:33 PM EST – Updated February 10 at 7:50 PM
BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) – Smithfield Foods held a luncheon for over 500 healthcare workers and first responders across Pender County to honor them for their tireless work throughout the pandemic.
In the parking lot of Pender Memorial Hospital, Smithfield employees and volunteers from all over the county lined up to serve meals to waiting hospital staff, EMS, Sheriff’s deputies, and other essential workers. Among those assisting Smithfield was Burgaw Mayor Pete Cowan.
“We’re blessed in this county to have a great group; they do a tremendous job,” said Cowan. “It’s a pleasure working with the hospital and a great organization like Smithfield to get this done.”
Smithfield saw the event as a way to thank local employees for their dedication to serving the community. Smithfield Director of Community Development Steve Evans says the event was meant to unite the county.
“There are few things that really unite us all, outside of food,” said Evans. “This is a great way for us to bring some unity and some happiness to some folks, and also for us to be able to get out and see the value of our work.”
While no official announcement has been made yet, Smithfield plans to hold similar events to honor essential employees throughout southeastern North Carolina.
“We’ve had various events to [thank these employees], but nothing quite as large on this scale,” added Cowan.
Healthcare workers and first responders continue to work despite the pandemic, and Evans says that is why it is so important to honor them in the best way he and Smithfield foods can.
“It’s taken this pandemic to bring the rest of the world’s awareness to the heroes that actively work in healthcare, in food production, and so many of these other vital services,” said Evans.
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