Their ways are discrete. Almost like the Fort Knox of generosity. Backing the Blue Line’s Family Support Committee proudly represents Minnesota’s 87 counties with 87 caring, responsive, and generous “Regional Blue Angels (or RBAs).”
AS STEALTHY AS FIGHTER PILOTS?
As stealthy as fighter pilots, these RBAs can shop, personalize, and relay a care package to a Minnesota law enforcement officer in a matter of hours. Often times to show support after an injury, loss, or to simply boost morale. From the time a request is received, to the moment shopping for just the right items might be only a matter of 6-7 hours (take that Amazon Prime)! Most baskets are completed and delivered in about a week from the time a request is received. It also depends on the needs of the officer. The utmost of care is taken to ensure that the basket is a gracious, personalized, and more often than not - an unexpected - gift of appreciation and encouragement.
To date, 74 care baskets (and counting!) have been delivered to Minnesota’s blue line families. Each shopped for with care and special regard given to the officer’s preferences, needs, and tastes. According to Backing the Blue Line’s Family Support Chair, phone calls and messages to a recipient’s partners are often made to ensure the RBAs get it right. Noting that an officer’s partners and co-workers are like a second all-knowing family.
A SAMPLING OF THE PERSONALIZED CARE BASKETS
SO WHY DO THEY DO IT? WHAT THE BLUE ANGELS SAY...
But why? What motivates a group of strangers to spend over 450 hours or 18-24 full days a year (including an in-person training to learn RBA protocols and procedures) to provide a basket of goodies to individuals they’ve never met before?
"Writing the cards, prepping baskets or roses all make me feel connected to my blue line family. There is an indescribable feeling that connects us all and sending a card or basket is [a great] way to show that feeling."
"Basket making and card writing are my two favorite things! I have only personally delivered directly to the person once and I loved hearing how much he enjoyed it. I love trying to find things that would brighten someone's day & it fulfills my desire to spoil someone very deserving!"
“You just feel the appreciation they have for what we do because of a "simple basket." And hope because it makes you feel like if we can boost their morale even just a little bit with a simple basket then we really can make a difference in our law enforcement community. There is always that feeling of wanting to do something-needing to do something to show our law enforcement [officers] are appreciated. These baskets do that…”
SO WHAT IMPACT DOES IT MAKE ON MN OFFICERS & THEIR FAMILIES?
From the generosity of angels into the arms of protectors.
"I received your care package and wanted to say it really meant a lot. I've been struggling with neck and back injuries that occurred at work. When not in the building I kind of feel forgotten at times. This really meant a lot thank you again."
"Just wanted to say thank you for the gift basket and card from the Backing the Blue Line group. I also want to say thanks to your group for being a support for my wife. This group has been such a positive support for spouses of Officers and allows them to lean on and vent as this job affects the whole family not just the Officer. And for me it is nice to know [my wife] has people who understand her side of this job and have that network of overwhelming support."
"I just received the gift basket and it is such a nice gesture along with the items included. So very thoughtful ! It truly helps brighten up a challenging day! Thank you again SO very much!"
"I was injured on duty and have not yet returned. Yesterday I was presented a basket from Backing the Blue Line. The gift was completely unexpected and is very appreciated. Thank you to all of your members for what you do. I know officers like myself appreciate the thoughts very much."
OUR HEARTFELT THANKS FOR MAKING THE BASKETS POSSIBLE
While Backing the Blue Line counts on the donations it receives to provide these baskets, it also relies on the information and willingness of others to reach out when an officer or their family could use some encouragement. But more than donations and gifts, Backing the Blue Line understands the pressures our law enforcement officers and their families face. While those of us who have not taken an oath to serve and protect can never quite fully understand what it is that allows an individual to be willing to put their whole selves before others, we can understand what it is to show gratitude.
We can honor the regard that is so freely and humbly given to each of us every single day.
In fact it’s pretty basic: It’s not just about the basket. It’s about respect.
Do you know of an officer or law enforcement family who could use a little encouragement?
Fill out the form HERE.
About the writer: Caitlin is still in her rookie year as a Backing the Blue Line member. She is a member of the marketing committee, a SWAT attendee, and a professional "heart emoji clicker" in BTBL's private Facebook group. She is a middle school special education teacher and chief chaos coordinator of twin boys. Her dream job would be a talk radio DJ. But only if she could talk about the fluffy stuff. Her husband, a Minnesota State Trooper, has been in law enforcement for 10 years. He is literally and figuratively the brakes to her lead foot. More of Caitlin can be found on her blog, Minnesota Gingham.