When asked his name, the 6-year-old Eric Lowe announced “Eric Lowe, and I’m the future chief of the Skull Camp Fire Department.”
And it’s no wonder.
Lowe was on hand at Cedar Ridge Elementary School late Tuesday afternoon to receive one of 120 free winter coats donated to students at the school by the department.
Through the program, dubbed “Operation Warm,” any student who signed up as wanting a jacket was provided one.
The department raised more than $4,500 through fundraisers and donations to help children who may not be able to stay warm this winter without the jackets.
Chief Josh Moose said the department took on the challenge out of a spirit of service.
Standing in the school’s main hallway surrounded by parents and children, Moose said the effort is an outreach to the community.
“This is one more way for us to be able to help and serve the community,” he said. “By helping kids who may need it. Often, the community doesn’t have a chance to see us or get to know us unless it’s in a traumatic situation that begins with a 911 call.”
Moose said he hopes other fire departments will follow, ultimately providing warm winter jackets to students in each of the county’s elementary schools.
The jackets were presented to the students during the school’s Family Reading Night, which gave parents a chance to munch on pizza as they learned about the school’s Title I regulations and requirements.
Title I schools qualify for supplemental funds based on having a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. The program works to identify students in need of help, set improvement goals and measure progress.
In addition, parents were familiarized with the county school system’s Haiku software, learning how to log on and access their child’s account in order to be able to follow their progress.
Parents were also told about Reading 3D, which helps monitor a student’s progress as a result of Read to Achieve legislation.
Read to Achieve is a program that serves students in grades K-3 by monitoring reading progress and screening and assessing students. Its goal is a high reading competency by grade three.
Assistant Principal Dana Draughn said she was excited about the evening’s activities, noting that students were broken up into grade-appropriate groups for reading-related workshops.
“What I like about this is each room has skills and activities based on individual reading levels and all teachers and staff are here participating to help instill a love of reading in each individual child,” she said. “This is a big deal.”
And at the end of the program, each student went home with their very own free book.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.