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Roseburg elementary schools have Thanksgiving lunch with first responders

November 22, 2018

First responders were invited to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal with students in Roseburg elementary schools Tuesday.

Students, teachers and emergency responders enjoyed turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings.

At Melrose Elementary School, firefighters from Douglas County Fire District No. 2, located right next door to the school, came to lunch and had a chance to interact with the students.

Melrose Principal Tammy Rasmussen said the idea was instituted by interim Superintendent Lee Paterson, who brought it to the principals. She said all the principals thought it was a great way to connect the responders with the kids.

“He wanted to find ways to bring community back into school in positive and encouraging ways,” she said. “He is passionate about the role that law enforcement and firefighters have in supporting the kids and being positive role models for the students.”

Nick Wecks, an engineer and paramedic for Fire District No. 2, said he wants the kids to be at ease and understand that police and firefighters are there to protect them, so the kids can trust them in an emergency situation.

“We just want to be approachable, and want the kids to be comfortable and know that we’re here to help them and be a part of their community, so I think doing those interactions with the kids helps them.”

Wecks has a little extra incentive for his visits to the school. His 10-year-old daughter River is in the fourth grade there.

“I like having him come over and have lunch, and sometimes he plays wall-ball with us, “ River Wecks said.

Mason Fisher likes to ask questions of the firefighters.

“You get to ask them what they do at the fire station, and I like how they can fight all those fires in a day,” Mason said.

Fourth-grader Paisley Woodley said she enjoys talking to the firefighters, and it makes her feel safer having them close by.

“When they come over, they help us learn stuff, and sometimes they come in our classroom and read books to us,” she said. “And if there’s a fire, they can drive over here in 2 seconds and put it out.”

Her friend Bella Nielsen, 9, likes hearing about what the firefighter do.

“They teach us stuff when they’re sitting there. I think their job is scary, because if they get stuck in a house that’s on fire, they could die,” she said.

Capt. Mark Hernandez of Fire District No. 2 said the kids are very curious.

“They always have a ton of questions for us, and we always try to answer as many questions as we possibly can,” Hernandez said. “We never know what they’re going to ask.”

First responders also get invited to Christmas holiday lunches in the schools in the Roseburg district.

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