Every time I drive by the fire station, my son Eric waves to the fire fighters from his car seat and remembers the day we brought them valentines. The visit to the fire hall with Eric’s small, homemade gift earned him a chance to sit behind the wheel of the fire engine and turn on the siren himself. Eric speaks of that day with the type of enthusiasm usually reserved for Christmas morning or Disney World.
We were making valentines anyway, which is where great service ideas always seem to start. I suggested making some additional valentines for our local firefighters as our way of saying thanks for keeping us safe. We decided on a garland instead of individual valentines, since a garland could be displayed in a common area at the firehall. We had construction paper, stickers, markers and glue...and limited "crafting" abilities. Simple and cute was our goal.
We began by calling the fire station and asking for the first names of our firefighters. We also made an appointment to deliver our tribute in person.
Next we made a simple chain of hearts accordian-style (one for each firefighter). Eric decorated each heart with the names of the firefighters and stickers (rocket ship stickers, actually. Eric was POSITIVE that firefighters like rocket ships). The six middle hearts on the garland spelled T-H-A-N-K-S.
We delivered the garland on the Sunday before Valentines Day. Firefighter Kevin Schmalz hung our garland in the break room before giving Eric his own helmet and a tour of the firehouse. First stop: the truck bay. There was the fire engine. Eric's eyes were the size of saucers. Kevin asked Eric if he wanted to drive the firetruck. Eric sat behind the wheel and "steered". Then, Kevin showed Eric how to turn on the lights and siren. Eric turned them on himself. We saw all of their equipment, hoses, and uniforms. After a few pictures with the firefighters, we headed home.
I'm glad that Eric's first service project had that kind of payoff. It made getting him to try other projects a lot easier.