Local elementary school honors first responders

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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) – It’s National First Responders Day, where we celebrate those who put their lives on the line for us each day.

To say thank you, Pugliese West Elementary held a breakfast to honor the local departments.

The breakfast included first responders from Steubenville Police and Fire, Jefferson County Sheriff’s, Mingo Junction and other local departments along with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Everyone I spoke to all said the same things, how special these students made them feel.

“Today recognizes the heroic men and women who make it their business to take immediate action when disaster strikes. Firefighters, police, paramedics, EMTs. It’s not hard to understand and appreciate their sacrifice and risk.”

Tracie Swinsinski – Teacher

It was a simple way to say a big thank you from the students, with a good meal and heart-felt performances.

“So we are just honoring them by providing breakfast. Some Brooklyn Bagels, some donuts from Tim Hortons, and some juice and we just wanted to put on a show for them. So we provided some kindergarten singing America The Beautiful and we had a few forth grade students give speeches.”

Ashley Blackburn – Pre-School Teacher

But, it’s more than just breakfast.

Sheriff Fred Abdalla said this is a way to form a bond with the children, letting them know first responders aren’t the bad guys.

They’re here to help.

“I enjoy it just as much as the children do. It’s really special to see these young children smiling, laughing, having fun, that’s what it’s all about. And as I always say there’s nothing more important then children.”

Fred Abdalla – Sheriff Jefferson County

For the teachers, it’s a way to instill values and show the students how to respect those who serve our community.

“Sometimes people don’t recognize how lucky they are to have these people helping us and saving our lives everyday.”

Rudy Paris – 4th Grader

“We take for granted how much they help us and we really need to give back to them.”

Isabella Cadile – 4th Grader

Assistant Steubenville Fire Chief Chris Allen wanted to leave the children with this message.

“Well one young man asked me me a good question and I’m going to answer it here. He asked me what does it take to do this job and I told him the number one thing is you have to have compassion for other people because we generally meet people when bad things happen and we meet people with circumstances that are less than ideal. So you have to be willing to have compassion for other people or go do something else.”

Chris Allen – Assistant Steubenville Fire Chief

Organizers were very pleased with how many first responders came for the breakfast with the kids.

They hope to do something like this again next year!

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