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Firefighters help agency put some joy in child's life

Firefighters will host a birthday party each month for a child chosen from those who turn in a fire prevention packet.

By MICHELLE JONES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 10, 2002


ZEPHYRHILLS -- Two agencies are working together to provide a birthday party for a 9-year-old girl who has never had one before.

The Zephyrhills Fire Department and Big Brothers Big Sisters are having a party today for Myra and seven of her friends. The agency does not release last names of children.

There will be a cake, party favors, balloons, presents, a clown and maybe even a ride on the firetruck.

"The Fire Department is very supportive of our program," said Pamela Anton of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

And while the fire station on Dairy Road will provide the facility, firefighters will benefit from the festivities by kicking off their Fire Prevention Program, open to all children.

Starting next week, children can drop by the station on Dairy Road with their parents and pick up an information packet on fire prevention. After filling out the packet and dropping it off at the station, each child's name goes into a drawing for his or her own birthday party.

Fire Chief Robert Hartwig recently joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

"I believe there is a need for mentors for some of our kids," he said. "We go to the schools, during the Great American Teach-In, and I see how the kids appreciate the adults. Plus mine are grown."

Each month the Fire Department will provide a party for one of the children who fills out the packet. This month's kickoff event is helping the Big Brothers Big Sisters program but will be open to the public next week.

"We are looking for a Big Sister for Myra," Anton said. "Preferably someone in their late 20s or early 30s."

However, the agency always needs volunteers. There are two programs: community based, where the volunteer spends at least eight hours a month with the child, and site based, where a volunteer goes to the student's school to work one hour a week with the student.

Those who are interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister may call (727) 372-1458. To pick up a fire prevention packet drop by the Fire Department at 6907 Dairy Road in Zephyrhills.

-- Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (813) 909-4612 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4612. Her e-mail is jones@sptimes.com.

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