PINEVILLE, NC (WBTV) - Just a few weeks ago, friends and family of fallen Pineville firefighter Richard Sheltra decided to come up with a way to celebrate his 21st birthday.
"Honor your local Fire Fighters" is the name of the Facebook page that encouraged people to take chocolate chip cookies to their local first responders on June 2. The day marks what would have been Richard's 21st birthday. The cookies were his absolute favorite.
"He would probably be in there right now gobbling them up," said fellow Pineville firefighter Michael Cox, referring to the table at the Pineville station stacked with dozens and dozens of cookies. "He'd also be in there cleaning up the mess and the crumbs, because that's just the kind of guy he was."
The movement started locally, but has exploded into a nationwide effort to show appreciation to first responders. Pledges to deliver cookies have come from all 50 states in the US.
Thursday morning, fire stations all over the country were reporting random cookie deliveries. Many of them had notes or news articles attached informing them of Richard's death.
Charlotte Fire Department Station 24 had their kitchen counters covered in cookies by 11 a.m.
Back at Pineville though, they had a steady stream of visitors coming in all day. "They started coming in as soon as the sun came up and they haven't stopped," Cox said.
Sheltra was killed in the line of duty April 30 at a business fire in Pineville.