Archive for December 26th, 2019

Des Plaines FIre Department news

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A mother and daughter who lost their home to a fire got a special gift from Des Plaines firefighters Tuesday.

On Dec. 12, a fire destroyed the single mother’s apartment with all of their belongings including their clothes. Firefighters worked with their property manager and arranged for a new apartment in the same complex, and on Tuesday delivered clothes, school supplies, Christmas presents, and gift cards to the family. Some of the firefighters who fought the original blaze were there to spread the holiday spirit.

The Des Plaines Fireman’s Association and Fire Union collected and donated all of the gifts, knowing the family did not have renter’s insurance.

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Firefighters help children battling severe illnesses

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Michael Schofield, an offensive lineman for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers, and his wife, Kendall Coyne Schofield, a professional hockey player and 2018 Olympic gold medalist, are giving their support to Project Fire Buddies. Both are Southland natives.

Project Fire Buddies was started by Oak Forest Firefighter/Paramedic Kurt DeGroot after an emergency call in December 2016, when he transported a young child with a high fever who was battling cancer. He wanted to do more for local children going through that battle than just being there during an emergency, so he reached out to fellow firefighters and came up with Project Fire Buddies.

Through the program firefighters try to bring cheer to children battling severe illness simply by hanging out with them, playing board games, playing catch, or other activities. During the holidays, they organize a gift drive for the children and try to get others to sponsor families.

This year, Project Fire Buddies is looking to assist at least eight children and their families with the Christmas drive. Earlier this year, a Project Fire Buddies drive collected 373 backpacks filled with school supplies for child students in Oak Forest.

DeGroot said one of his biggest challenges is finding families who could use help and just promoting what Project Fire Buddies does.

Besides sponsoring three families with Christmas gifts, the athletes are also posting about Project Fire Buddies on social media. One of their posts reached 16,000 people in four days earlier this month.

DeGroot connected with the Schofields through Sue Huiner, who has worked in firefighting administration the past 28 years in the area and is involved with the Schofield Family Foundation, which aims to provide funding and support to military families, emergency personnel, youth sports organizations, and families in need.

And Michael Schofield’s father, also named Michael Schofield, is the Orland Park fire chief who said that Project Fire Buddies fits in with the mission of the Schofield Family Foundation.

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