SGA thanks Lubbock firefighters for continued service - The Daily Toreador

By Matthew Setzekorn

Students and members of Student Government Association hold a thank you banner at Fire Station 11 to show gratitude to Lubbock firefighters after delivering muffins to every fire station in Lubbock on Oct. 13, 2018. Matthew Setzekorn

The Texas Tech Student Government Association went to every fire station in Lubbock to deliver muffins and show appreciation for their service.

This is the second time SGA went to the local fire stations to deliver baked goods as a way to say thank you, having first done this on Oct. 7, 2017.

The students separated into groups and went to assigned stations beginning at 9 a.m., where some students were treated with tours of the station and given treats of their own, such as red, plastic firefighter helmets. 

“We went to fire station one and that is the largest fire station in Lubbock,” Alex Todd, a public relations student and SGA deputy chief of staff from Wichita Falls, said. “We got a full-blown tour.”

Ashley Riggs, a second-year senator for the Rawls College of Business, said it was cool to see all the different facilities that the various stations offered.

“I was really impressed with some of their training facilities they have. I didn’t know that their job really entailed some of those things,” Riggs said. “They have a training facility in a manhole, so they have a system where they have the manhole uplifted and it’s how they get people out from under there. It was crazy, I didn’t know that was necessary.”

At 11 a.m., all the students reconvened at fire station 11 near the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport to deliver a thank you banner and gifts to Lieutenant Curtis Swinford.

SGA President Sean Lewis, who is the son of a firefighter, said it was important to him that they go out and show their appreciation to the people that protect the Lubbock community.

“Thinking about our first responders, thinking about the people that we forget about because we take them for granted, how do we serve them, how do we show our gratitude?” Lewis said. “We thought we’d get out in our own community and show our gratitude to them.”

Chris Chapman, who represents Safe Building Materials Association of Texas, helped SGA put this event together with the help of Market Street, which donated the muffins. Chapman said seeing students come out on a cold, rainy Saturday to do some good in the community will be a story he remembers.

“You sit around at 9 o’clock in the morning in Lubbock and you look at these young men and women who are doing something out of their own self-interest, and they didn’t know what to expect, they just knew they were going to thank someone people who are saving our lives,” Chapman said. “People don’t remember statistics, but they remember stories. Selfishly, I’m going to be talking about this and I’m going to tell people that don’t even care.”

Chapman also donated money to SGA to help them continue in their efforts of making the Tech and Lubbock community great.

Student Government Association President Sean Lewis receives a donation from Chris Chapman and his company, Safe Building Materials Association of Texas. The donation was received to help SGA continue its efforts in helping the Lubbock and Tech communities. Lewis and Chapman organized for SGA to deliver muffins to every fire station Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Matthew Setzekorn

Swinford said working at the department is a thankless job, so it makes him feel appreciated when people stop by to show their gratitude.

“We don’t do it for (being shown gratitude), we do it because we genuinely want to help people,” Swinford said. “It does make you feel a little better that somebody is actually aware of the sacrifices you make and the things you do.”

The families of firefighters also have to face the reality of the dangers the firefighters face, Swinford said, which is why Chapman wanted to extend everyone’s gratitude to the spouses and families of the firefighters as well.

“A lot has happened since last year,” Chapman said. “You guys leave your houses every day and there’s always that chance that you might not come back. So, if you all would carry back to your families how appreciative we are.”

Todd said during her tour of the stations, seeing the pictures of all of the firefighter’s families was a reminder of how much these firefighters are putting on the line to protect the Lubbock community.

“It was just a really sweet reminder that there are people back home that they do come home to and they sacrifice just as much time as the firemen themselves are sacrificing to be there,” Todd said. “It was just really cool to come full circle and truly see that these firemen love serving the Lubbock community, but their families are just as adamant about serving.”

Having the ability to go to the stations and thank the men and women was a special experience, Stephanie Kuzmack, a sociology major and an SGA senator for the College of Arts and Sciences from Espanola, New Mexico, said.

“It’s just really cool that we get to interact with people we don’t normally get to interact with at events like this where we can actually thank them,” Kuzmack said.

With the personal connection Lewis has to firefighters, he wants the men and women at these stations to know they are appreciated and he one day hopes to expand this event and start thanking more people around the community.

“Hopefully we can have 80 kids or 100 kids come out and show their support and maybe even expand beyond the fire department,” Lewis said. “Our EMS, our police department, our teachers, our waste management systems. We have Tech to Town once a year but I don’t think it should be limited to once a year.”

At the core of this, Lewis said going out and showing appreciation to those in the community is one of the things he values as a student at Tech.

“It’s about living out the values we have,” Lewis said. “What does it mean to be a Red Raider, what does it mean to be a student or to strive for honor. So, living that out rather than just writing about it or talking about it.