By NATHAN GREGORY
Students from Mississippi State University and local schools showed Starkville’s first responders Thursday how much they appreciated their service by giving back.
Volunteer Starkville and Mississippi State University’s Maroon Volunteer Center partnered together and sent volunteers to help spruce up facilities at Starkville Fire Station No. 1, East Oktibbeha County Fire Department’s Belaire station and the firing range on Greta Lane — which serves both Starkville Police Department and Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department — as part of their Serving Those Who Serve Us program.
The students showed their appreciation for city and county first responders by washing fire trucks, cleaning fire stations and disposing of old targets at the shooting range.
Volunteer Starkville Director Jamey Matte, who supervised a group of Starkville High School student helpers at East Oktibbeha County Fire Department, said it is important to donate time to city and county first responders to show them appreciation for the services they contribute.
“I think a lot of people on an everyday basis, they don’t think about the service our local responders provide us, but if your house catches on fire, your apartment or if you have a car wreck your local first responders with the police department, sheriff’s office, fire departments, they’re the ones who come and serve you,” Matte said. “The importance of today is showing our appreciation for that. It can simply be just small recognition. We chose to come here and help clean their facilities. That’s something they have to do every day, but we are trying to do that for them today and just let them know we appreciate their daily service to us.”
Matte said this is not only a service for first responders but for the community as a whole.
“We are washing all of (EOFD’s) trucks and vehicles. We swept out the bays. We wiped down their day room, swept, mopped and we’re wiping down tables,” Matte said. “This is the area that serves for local citizens to come in and vote during election time. That’s serving local citizens and the fire department.”
County Deputy Fire Coordinator Austin Check said getting to meet the students as they’re volunteering also allows fire department members to tell them more about the services first responders provide.
“On a county scale we’re turning 500 calls a year. all our members volunteer their time and do a great job of keeping up the facilities but it’s really nice to have someone like Jamey come in with her organization and really give us a pushing hand, especially with elections coming up,” Check said. “We want our facilities to be nice and presentable every day, but you really want to get ready for elections.
Something like this, we would have gotten it done, but we would never have been able to do it as nice without them pitching in and helping us. We put our manpower out here today and she doubled it for us. We’re especially grateful to have her come help us out.”
Starkville High School student Camille Arnett said she enjoys being able to take time out to let first responders know how much she appreciates what they do.
“Washing cars is a way to give back. (First responders) do so much for us,” Arnett said. “They help us whenever we need help with fires. It’s important for us to at least give them one day and volunteer for them.”
Volunteer Starkville and Maroon Volunteer Center will also host a Sept. 11 national day of service and remembrance ceremony Tuesday at Fire Station No. 1 scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.