KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the past 21 years, Laurie Horton and her husband have opened their home to hundreds of Kansas City, Missouri, police officers and firefighters who spend the holidays working.
This Christmas was no different.
"The first two rules are eat and be careful out there," Horton said in-between greeting officers with a smile and hug.
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 2 to 11 p.m., every first responder working the holidays is invited to stop by her home for a hot plate of food.
Horton spends the week preparing for the feast, which includes smoked ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, pies and other sweets. She welcomes officers with a big hug and a laugh, packs them plates to-go and asks them to sign her table cloth in return.
"They are so generous," said Kansas CIty Police officer Ben Cassell, who stopped by the Horton home on Wednesday for the first time.
Horton and her husband started the tradition 21 years ago after discovering officers were eating hot dogs from gas stations during their shifts.
"A hot dog on Christmas or Thanksgiving? It's just wrong on too many levels," she said. "So we just said, 'No, have them start coming here.' The fact that they love their community enough to put them on the front line makes them angels to us."
Horton works for the Kansas City Police Department. Over the years, officers have nicknamed her "Mama Horton."