Firefighters hold a special place in her heart.
So every year on Sept. 11, Peggy Decker of Summerville delivers huge trays of baked goods to fire stations in Summerville and Dorchester County.
She has been baking and delivering cookies and brownies since 2002, the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Decker started out with nine trays. On Wednesday, she delivered 19.
She had no personal loss in the 2001 tragedy, but firefighters, policemen and others making the ultimate sacrifice touched her and all of us, even now.
But Decker does have a personal story, and a few local firefighters play a prominent role.
The sweets are her way of giving back, and self-recognition is not a criteria.
‘They saved my life’
In 1999, Decker was at home in Summerville; she was not feeling well. When she tried to get up off the couch, “I passed out and stopped breathing,” her husband would tell her later.
Then-Capt. John E. Decker of the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office called for emergency help. And you guessed it: Firefighters were the first on the scene.
Decker had had a heart attack despite no history of heart disease or heart-rhythm problems. Firefighters revived her.
“They were there and they saved my life.”
She said lots of people, including firefighters and policemen, prayed for her and kept up with her husband during a difficult time.
When 9/11 happened, Decker decided it was time for her to give back.
“They were there for us. So I said, ‘You know, it was time for me to pray for their families. Show them some love.’ ”
The next year, the cookie-brownie-baking tradition started.
Summerville Fire Department gets two trays because of its size. Battalion Chief Rodney Profit said Thursday that he was not at work Wednesday, but he was looking at some trays of baked goods, and “they won’t last too much longer.” Firefighters greatly appreciate them.
She loves to cook
Decker buys all the ingredients, then she bakes for two days. She started out handling it alone, baking and delivering.
Over the years, the number of trays grew, so her daughter-in-law and her husband helped with deliveries.
This year, her best friend, Patricia Mattox, and a few members of her church, Crossroads Community Church, helped.
Peggy deserves all the credit, Mattox said.
She puts in her time, money and gasoline to do this. And she loves doing it. And furthermore, she takes no credit for it, Mattox said. She always says the goodies are from the church.
Decker said she enjoys seeing the faces of the firefighters when she takes the trays. They so appreciate it that someone remembered them and 9/11. “You often would get a smile or a thank you. Then you might see a tear roll down the face.”
Decker does not like being the center of attention, but she deserves the recognition, Mattox said.
“I can stay in the background because God knows what I am doing. I enjoy doing this because it’s one of the gifts God gave me,” Decker said.
She cooks for a lot of people. “If someone is sick, I prepare a meal for them.”
She loves to cook. That’s a good thing; she and her husband have eight children and 20 grandchildren.
Decker plans to continue her baking. Asked if she thinks the number of trays will jump to 20 next year, she said it’s possible. A new fire station is going up on Butternut Road.
Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555.