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IOWA STRONG: Local coffee shops honoring first responders following the death of Iowa State Patrol Sgt Jim Smith

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INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KWWL) - A local coffee shop is showing support and appreciation by delivering coffee and treats to first responders. In light of the recent killing of Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith, those at Em’s Coffee Company are doing what they can to help lift spirits. 

It all started at Natural Grind, a coffee shop in Grundy Center, where Sergeant smith was killed while trying to arrest a barricaded man. The shop has been collecting donations and serving officers for free, to honor those who serve.

“It started to happen organically coming in to donate for law enforcement or anyone that serves,” Natural Grind owner Natalie Kracht said, “Then I thought ‘You know what? Let’s just expand this.”

Kracht gifted $300 to Em’s Coffee to do the same. The Independence coffee shop taking it a little bit further. 

“In this time of need we didn’t want them to have to come to us, we wanted to go to them,” Em’s Coffee job coach Tami Fenner said. 

Em’s Coffee Company is owned by Emilea Hillman with the help of job coaches. She has a disability and employs others with disabilities as well. 

Those at Em’s decided to make deliveries to local first responders to show support and appreciation for the work and situations they put themselves in every day. During this

“We took it to the police station, the sheriff's department, we shared it with emergency management, the fire department, we went to the hospital. We also went to the funeral home and to Mr. Smith's home where they’re standing guard as well,” Fenner said. 

Fenner and Hillman delivered coffee and other treats to help lift the spirits of those currently healing from the loss of Sergeant Smith. 

“I tried to resist, but the cinnamon bites that they brought were pretty good so I did help myself to a couple of those,” Independence Police Captain Brian Lau said. 

Captain Lau says he knew Sergeant Smith personally, as his kids are around the same age and would get together frequently. He shared that it’s been a pretty quiet week at the police department. 

“I think everybody’s just still kind of hurt and sad and in disbelief that Jim’s not here anymore,” Captain Lau said. 

Officers with the Independence Police Department expressed gratitude for the kindness coming from their local coffee shop.

"Sergeant Smith was like family to us. I think we're hurting, his family's hurting, and our entire community is hurting right now so to do a gesture like that, to say 'hey we support you guys and we feel your pain' I think it made a big impact on our department," he said.

In addition to the deliveries, Em's Coffee Company is giving free menu items to those who show up in uniform, or mention they work for a local agency.

Natural Grind is still accepting donations to honor those who serve. The Grundy Center coffee shop has already raised about $2,500.

If you wish to donate, you can do so here.

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Diego Hernandez

Multimedia Journalist

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