Newton Falls – Though the officially designated holiday observance for Thanksgiving is still several days away, the season for celebrating gratitude is already well-represented thanks to a recent event held at the First Congregational Church in Newton Falls.
During a weekend that honored those who have fought for our country, the church recognized an additional group of hometown heroes that fight every day to keep the local communities safe. Firefighters, police officers and their families were treated to an early Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, ham and all the fixings prepared by members of the congregation to show their appreciation for the lifesaving work these men and women are willing to do for complete strangers. Open to the public as well, the free event included a question and answer session following the delicious meal, encouraging those in attendance to share stories of experiences in the field, give tips on fire safety such as changing the batteries in smoke detectors when it’s time to change the clock for Daylight Savings, and sling a few light-hearted jokes in an otherwise serious profession. (“Why did God create policemen? Because even firefighters need heroes!”) Some first-responders spoke about how they came to be involved in the force, whether as the newest member of multiple generations of tradition or with several decades of individual service themselves, a common thread connected them all in this calling: they are the ones who, when everyone else is running away from a burning building or other imminent danger, are willingly running toward it.
In addition to those from the fire and police departments, representatives from the Teen Challenge in Youngstown also spoke about their programs which help save lives in a different way: aiding youths who are addicted to drugs and are in need of support to break the cycle and look forward to a clean future. With the strength and conviction for this work only gained by the personal experience that comes with being a recovered drug addict, one young man stressed the importance of staying away from drugs to begin with, mentioning how quickly simple curiosity can turn into a dangerous and uncontrollable way of life. To help citizens keep pills out of the hands of children who may be curious, the local police department accepts old prescription drugs, no questions asked, by way of a dropbox in the hallway of the station where the medicine can be deposited for proper disposal.
Before the event ended, free-will cash contributions for the meal were divided among the honored associations and organizers gave beautiful plaques to each group which included a prayer to watch over them as they continued to serve the communities. As an unexpected but rather fitting conclusion to the evening, the emergency alert sounded and the Station 43 squad members on duty swiftly boarded the ambulance parked outside, immediately on their way to aid someone in distress.
Community members will have another chance to show support for the firefighters and EMTs of Station 43 at the Annual Turkey Raffle/Feather Party, this Friday, November 18th at Station1 (across from McDonald’s). Starting at 7pm, visitors can purchase tickets for a chance to win one of 110 turkeys to be offered that evening. Four half hams will also be given away as door prizes; everyone in attendance will receive a ticket just for showing up! Hosted by the Newton Falls Joint Fire District Firefighters Association, this longstanding tradition helps raise money for necessary equipment that helps them continue to help those in need.
Another seasonal tradition in the 44444 is the free dinner sponsored by St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, held at the American Legion on Thanksgiving Day. According to the church website outreach calendar, volunteers provide the meal from 11:00am-12 noon with take-out dinners available (typically starting at 11:30) after the dining room has been served. For more information, visit www.stnicholaswarren.org. All are welcome.