Arizona Responders Decorate Tree for Students

Arizona Responders Decorate Tree for Students

News Dec 17, 2012

Dec. 17--The 7-foot tall Christmas tree delivered to Roosevelt Elementary School late last month by the Rural/Metro Fire Department got its last ornament Thursday morning, the tree topper.

Fittingly, it was a plastic firefighter helmet, complete with black and red figurines of firefighters standing along the brim and lights protruding through the top that resembled flames.

"Every day when we took in the next ornament we had a crowd of kids that would count the ornaments and ask what we were going to put on the top," said Rural/Metro spokesperson Charly McMurdie. "(Thursday) we delivered the top and when it was plugged in, it was like completing a puzzle."

The tree was delivered to the school after firefighters at Rural/Metro's station 5, who already had a fully-decorated tree at their station, came across a spare one and decided to donate it to one of the nearby schools.

So on Nov. 28 they loaded the tree into the back of an ambulance and took it over to the Roosevelt, where they set it up in the main hallway just outside the office. They even put the first ornament on the tree, a bell from the movie "Polar Express."

Firefighter/EMT Olga Chapman, who actually attended the school as a child, said the tree delivery is part of a new program the agency has started, called the "12 Days of Christmas," in which a different firefighter on each of the days will bring a new ornament to the school and hang it on the tree.

Among the ornaments delivered was a train by firefighter Victor Garcia and paramedic Caitlyn Thomas on the third day; a handmade ornament by firefighter Anisha Herrera on the fifth day; a fire truck and ambulance by McMurdie on the seventh and eleventh days; a pair of elves and a snowman by Fire Capt. Arturo Miranda and firefighter Brent Young on the eighth day and tenth days.

So the tree wouldn't be bare, students were also encouraged to bring an ornament from home. The firefighters also decorated the tree with about two dozen candy canes, but they didn't stay on the tree very long, with a few seemingly disappearing each time students passed by the tree.

McMurdie said as the final day got closer they had not decided what they wanted on the top of the tree, but continued to look for something, hoping to find something that was fire-department related.

"This was probably the most important part because all of the kids were excited about what was going to be at the top of their new Christmas Tree," McMurdie said.

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Eventually Doug Bingham, a dispatcher with another fire/police agency, volunteered to take on the task of making the firefighter-themed tree topper.

"Doug came to our rescue," McMurdie said.

McMurdie said firefighters and everyone involved enjoyed the project and that Rural/Metro is already looking forward to continuing the new tradition with Roosevelt school next year.

Copyright 2012 - The Sun, Yuma, Ariz.

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The Sun, Yuma, Ariz.
James Gilbert
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