Jessica Thompson of Alexandria appreciates the police so much that she wanted to dedicate her 31st birthday to helping them.

Thompson asked for candy for her birthday, which was in January, and recruited her friends to help her pack goody bags for law enforcement students at Alexandria Technical and Community College. They filled 190 paper bags with fun-sized candy bars, enough for every student.

It took about two hours to pack all the bags.

"We made sure that everyone gets the same amount," she said.

On Feb. 4, she went to the college and distributed the bags with the assistance of several first-year law enforcement students, explaining to the group how grateful she was for the ways law enforcement officers have helped her.

Thompson, a resident of a group home, told the Echo Press she and her friends have intellectual or mental disabilities. Sometimes she gets upset and runs away from home, she said, but the police always find her and bring her back safely.

Thinking about police makes her feel safe, she said. If her own circumstances had been different, she would have liked to have been in law enforcement herself. Sometimes she draws pictures of officers killed in the line of duty and sends them to the departments where they served.

She has previously delivered thank-you cards to the police department. She also admires other public servants, like firefighters and ambulance crews.

Thompson got the idea to provide goody bags to students after hearing about a boy who did it somewhere else.

"I was hoping to show them appreciation and encourage them to be good cops," she said. "We always should have good cops in this community."

After getting the goody bags, law enforcement students sang “Happy Birthday” to Jessica and gave her a big round of applause, said Nichole Aber, a promotion specialist with the college, who attended.