Home News Local news Firefighters End Old Year with a Food Giveaway

Firefighters End Old Year with a Food Giveaway


Dec. 30, 2006 — Firefighters vow to protect life and property, and Saturday St. Croix's A-shift firefighters came together to do just that by feeding the homeless and hungry at the Frederiksted fire station.
"We are giving back to a community that has given us a lot," said Lt. Yvonne M. Samuel. "Every year we do something."
Annually the firefighters bring Santa to the schools, according to Cpl. Frank Armstrong. "Santa is ridden around delivering toys to the schools," he said.
This year, in addition to the traditional Santa run, the A shift took money from their own pockets and cooked a grand meal for homeless residents and anyone in the area who was hungry — including the 25 firefighters on duty that day. The A shift includes the Frederiksted, Grove Place, Cotton Valley and Richmond fire stations.
The event got off to a slow start, but firefighters were confident their full menu would bring people from all across Frederiksted to sample what they made. "When I get out there and spread the word, you will be amazed how many people end up here," said firefighter Eugene Blyden.
Marcelino Torrens, a firefighter for 16 years, has been dubbed the Frederiksted station's resident chef. "I cooked some," Torrens modestly said in reference to the expansive menu. "But when 'we' cook, I cook," Torrens said.
The firefighters created a meal fit for any grand Crucian celebration. Their table was filled with containers of seasoned rice, turkey, macaroni and cheese, fish, stuffing, potato salad, roast pork, coleslaw, plantains, corn, beans and barbecue chicken, topped off with tarts and three types of cakes. One homeless resident blessed the meal, thanking the firefighters for taking the time to think of them during the holidays.
"I think this is a nice idea," said Migdalia Nieves, mother of firefighter Melbourne Adams Jr. "It's like giving birth to a newborn baby: They need to make Dec. 30 their day to do this type of activity."
The increase in the number of young people living on the streets should be a priority for those who can make a difference, she said: "We have to show [our young people] we care about them, no matter who they are."
For her part, Nieves said, she has stopped wasting food. The food she would normally throw away she instead gives to those she knows will appreciate it.
Firefighters' shifts are long and arduous, yet all agree there is nothing they would rather do than protect their fellow citizens. Tamarah Lezama is one of approximately 10 female firefighters on St. Croix. She is a rookie, having joined the force in September.
"I always wanted to be a firefighter," Lezama said. "We need more women on the force, as long as they can do their job."
Lezama said she was proud to be a part of the shift providing people with much-needed nourishment. "That's our job," she said. "Anything we can do outside of our scope, I'm down for it."
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