Local firefighters and paramedics recognized with “Bags for Heroes”

BAGS FOR HEROES On Friday Prince Edward County firefighters and paramedics were presented with 170 'Bags for Heroes', a campaign run through 'Bags of Hope' not-for-profit group. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

DESIRÉE DECOSTE

STAFF WRITER

Frontline emergency workers in Prince Edward County were thanked Friday for their ongoing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Picton’s Lisa Zachariah, owner/operator of Bags of Hope runs different campaigns through her not-for-profit organization and these include bags for the homeless, backpack programs, Christmas hamper campaigns, bags for fundraisers, ect. 

Bags of Hope was started by Zachariah and her family about five years ago when they wanted to support local people going through cancer treatments. 

On Friday, Zachariah presented ‘Bags for Heroes’, a campaign to recognized firefighters and paramedics for always putting their lives on the line, and delivered 170 ‘Bags for Heroes’ to Station One of Prince Edward County Fire and Rescue.

“We wanted to reach out to all the local volunteer firefighters, full-time firefighters and paramedics in Prince Edward County for their selfless acts they do,” expressed Zachariah.  “And not only through this COVID-19 crisis we’re having, but 24/7 everyday of their lives. They get up through the night and this is our way of reaching out to them.”

In the care packages is a range of personal care items to help firefighters and paramedics lives a little easier. Items ranged from a bag of chips to wine-tastings from throughout The County with a major sponsor being Murray Lupenette, manager of Metro grocery store in Picton donating a large amount of food and drinks to help fill the bags.

“Murray Lupenette from Metro went above and beyond as he does for every fundraiser we do, he steps up to the plate and donates whatever,” said Zachariah. “All of the bags, the chips, the pop and the bottled water all came from Metro. We also have donations from way too many to even announce. On behalf of my family and the community for everything they do, thank you for your selfless acts 24/7.”

Some other donations for the bags came from Sharon & John Stenning Sandbanks Bees, Barley Days Brewery, Waupoos Estates Winery, Prince Edward Pizza, Stock & Row Cider, Clafeld Cider House, Del-Gatto Estates, County Shores Farms, Koopmans Maple Mountain, The County Cider Company, Leigh Anne Moynihan Creativeleigh Designed, Dan & Lorraine Claxton from Claxton Electric, Paul & Sandi Greer from Green Ridge Farm, Kelly Lowe, and many, many more.

“On behalf of the fire service in Prince Edward County I want to express my sincere thanks to you (Zachariah) and your organization,” Deputy Fire Chief Robert Rutter expressed. “It’s fantastic to be recognized and this new concept of ‘Bags for Heroes’ is absolutely fantastic and I’m thrilled and excited and I just can’t wait to let our team members know what you (Zachariah), your family, your organization, Metro and everyone whose donated or contributed towards the cause it’s just absolutely incredible, thank you very much I can’t say enough.”

Deputy Chief Rutter, who takes on the roll of Fire Chief for PEC on June 30 after current Fire Chief Scott Manlow announced his retirement, also added the need for volunteer firefighters in The County.

“The volunteer firefighters leave their jobs, they get up during the night and answer the call,” said Deputy Chief Rutter. “We’re looking for volunteer firefighters in PEC and we’ve just rebranded our recruit drive to be called ‘Answer the Call’, so anyone who wants to consider being a volunteer firefighter I strongly encourage it.” 

If interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter please call 613-476-2345.

“I believe firefighters and paramedics don’t get enough recognition, not the same as PSW’s, nurses, doctors, frontline staff at grocery stores, farmers, ect.,” Zachariah stated. “And obviously they should get the recognition but I find with firefighters and paramedics we need to show everyone they are everyday heroes- not just through the COVID crisis- they put their lives on the line all the time.”

For more information please visit the Bags of Hope Facebook page www.facebook.com/bagsofhopepec/photos/rpp.326394797705957/1183416568670438/?type=3&theater

or visit the PEC Fire and Rescue Facebook page www.facebook.com/Prince-Edward-County-Fire-Rescue-1231384746883639/