ST. PETERSBURG — Jamie Mayo has strong memories of Sept. 11, 2001. On each anniversary, the St. Pete business owner recalls what it was like to listen to the car radio on her way to work in horror.
She drove back home so she could be with her children.
Every anniversary, she counters those memories with something sweet: Dozens and dozens of cookies. Saturday will mark her 19th year bringing treats and cards to first responders on 9/11.
Mayo’s volunteer efforts started small — baking a few dozen cookies with her kids to bring to the nearby fire stations. But over the last two decades, she amassed over one hundred volunteers to help, bringing cookies to 8 police stations and all 71 fire stations in Pinellas.
“It’s a small pittance of gratitude and it seems like the most appropriate day of the year to go,” said Mayo, 59.
Volunteer bakers supply many of the treats, from fresh chocolate chip cookies and fudge brownies to pre-packed snacks for police stations, which can’t accept homemade food. Local teachers and members of the I Love St. Petersburg Facebook group donated handwritten cards of appreciation. Members of Mayo’s church, St. Pete Vineyard, spend the night of Sept. 10 packaging up goodies on trays donated by Air Culinaire Worldwide.
On the morning of Sept. 11, a fleet of drivers heads out to drop off the packages throughout the county.
“It’s a big fat thank you to all the firemen and first responders,” said Julie Roberts, a member of St. Pete Vineyard who has been helping with volunteer efforts for over a decade.
The pandemic put a damper on last year’s festivities, Roberts said, and only a handful of stations received cookies. Volunteers didn’t want to wait another year, and are proceeding with precautions.
“Everyones going to wear masks, everybody’s going to wear gloves,” said Roberts, 63. “We’re going to clean, clean, clean.”
Mayo is intentional about delivering each year on the actual day of Sept. 11.
“That’s a day we need to remember,” she said. “We need them to know that they matter.”