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"Good deed" project brings SMS students, local firefighters together

posted Oct 16, 2015, 11:13 AM by Doreen Dedrick   [ updated Oct 16, 2015, 11:23 AM ]
[October 16, 2015] On October 9, the Tallman Fire Department hosted a pizza party to thank Suffern Middle School students for their support. Seventy-five students in health teacher Diane DiAmbrosio’s class had written letters to Tallman and Suffern firefighters on September 11, in honor of the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

“We didn’t have a chance to thank the first responders who gave their lives on September 11, so we wanted to let the Fire Department know that it’s people like them that make us feel safe,” said Greg, an eighth-grader.

The firefighters were so moved by students’ letters that they contacted DiAmbrosio to arrange a pizza party visit.

“Your letters meant a lot to us,” Chief Chris Stevens told the group. Each generation of his family has volunteered with the department since its founding in 1909.

“It was special to receive something like that from people we didn’t even know,” added President Steve Steinhardt.

Firefighters answered questions about their work, which ranges from responding to forest fires, structural collapses and hazmat incidents to vehicle extrications and searching for lost hikers. In fact, a few members had to leave mid-lunch to respond to a fire call.

The firefighters--all Ramapo Central alumni--encouraged those interested in becoming first responders to get involved with the Rockland County Fire & EMS Youth Academy.

DiAmbrosio credits Scholastic’s 9/11 Good Deed Challenge for inspiring the letter-writing project.

“I wanted to encourage my students to see September 11 as an opportunity to give back to their community, as a way to show respect for those that made ultimate sacrifices that day. It was immediate, personal and relevant to our community,” she reflected.

Photo caption: Suffern Middle Schoolers earned a thumbs-up from Tallman Fire Department firefighter Dennis Murphy for their September 11 letter-writing campaign to local first responders.