Of all the “thank-you’s” Bethel Twp. firefighters have received over the years, few, if any, were as sweet as the ones they received from two of Crystal Lake’s youngest citizens, Caleb and Sadie Benner.
On Aug. 25, the Benner children greeted their hometown heroes with special, handmade thank-you letters on which the children had affixed candy. The name of each candy helped Caleb and Sadie express why they were grateful for the firefighters.
The children’s love of firefighters began when they became buddies with their neighbor and Bethel Twp. firefighter, Scott McLin.
“Our kids absolutely love Scott!” explains the children’s mother, Jessica Benner, “They just think he’s awesome. He always takes time out for Caleb (6) and Sadie (4), and they love him right back...Scott is a really great neighbor. He is the reason the kids have fallen in love with firefighters.”
In fact, McLin spends so much time hanging out with Caleb and Sadie, they have even learned to discern the sounds of emergency vehicles.
“We will hear a siren go off in the distance and they’ll say, ‘There goes an ambulance!’...it’s just crazy!” says Benner.
Benner explains how the idea for the Firefighter Thank-You project came about.
“I found the idea for the (candy letter) on Facebook,” says Benner, “My husband, Brad, and I try to instill in the kids the importance of being thoughtful and kind to others, and to not take what we have for granted. When I saw (the letter) on Facebook, I asked the kids if they might want to make some and take them to the firehouse (well, the kids actually call it ‘Scott’s House!’). They said yes, so I got all of the supplies (and) together we made 65 thank-you’s and took them to the Bethel firehouse on Lake Road.”
After a long day of work, the firefighters were surprised by Caleb and Sadie’s generosity. “They (firefighters) had big smiles on their faces; you could tell it really brightened their day,” says Benner.
“It is so humbling when a community member’s children want to give back, especially to us” said Bethel Township Fire Chief Jacob King. “It makes me proud to work along side so many people willing to give freely to our community by volunteering for this department. Moments like this make it worth it.”
As for Caleb and Sadie, the firefighters made sure their short visit was an exciting one.
“The kids didn’t know where to look first...they were like kids in a candy store!” exclaims Benner, “They had so much fun, and the firefighters were so gracious to them. The entire experience was wonderful!”
Caleb and Sadie share their thoughts about their favorite parts of the project, Scott, and firefighters in general.
“We got to sit in the front seat of the fire truck!” says Caleb of his experience delivering the thank-you letters. The Park Layne first-grader also says his favorite thing about firefighters and Scott is that, “They help save people!”
Sadie says she most enjoyed, “Giving the (firefighters) a hug” and how the “sirens sounded funny.” But, like any practical 4-year-old, she is also quick to point out one of the best perks of their sweet Thank-You project.
“I liked the candy!”