25 Years of Christmas in April: A Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department Tradition
The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department has many traditions that have been handed down over its hundred year history. One of those traditions is our participation in the Christmas in April program. Since the program’s inception 25 years ago, the members of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department have helped repair the homes of low-income or physically challenged citizens so that they have a warm, dry, and safe place to call home. On Saturday, April 27, 2013 the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department, its career personnel, and other community volunteers participated in this rewarding program.
Over the years the members of our department and their families have performed a variety of tasks at ranging from yard work and painting, to carpentry and plumbing. While each project brings new challenges, volunteers work hard to make a difference using materials that have been generously donated or purchased by Christmas in April with monetary contributions from churches, businesses, and other community groups. All of the work is done at no cost to the homeowner.
Each of the volunteers brings a unique skill-set to the job, but whatever the task is – it’s done with caring and compassion. Chief John Weaver who works closely with the Christmas in April program in selecting and inspecting homes, has served as our House Captain for many years. He mentions that homeowners are often nominated by other members in the community because they are proud and find it hard to ask for help. Many of these residents are surprised when they learn that they’ve been nominated. Chief Weaver notes that “the biggest reward for doing the Christmas in April program are the smiles on the family members’ faces and the workers who have made a big difference in someone’s life.”
Retired Prince George’s County Fire Chief Ron Siarnicki, who also participated in the station’s first Christmas in April project as a station officer recalls, “The Christmas in April Program is one of those ideas that came about as a true commitment to help citizens of Prince George’s County who needed help beyond what they could address themselves. I truly believe that it represents the traditions of public service that are so important to the very essence of the American Fire Service. Every interaction is carried out with the altruistic intent of making someone’s life a little better. That is why we joined the fire service.”
As the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department celebrates its 25th Christmas in April project, we remember all of those who we have helped over the years and hope that we left their home a little brighter than we found them. We are proud of our members that have participated over the years and our tradition of service that includes this wonderful community program.