Hero Program rewards kids’ good deeds

Courtesy photo Escanaba Public Safety Officer Tabitha Marchese, back, helps local school student, Zoey Kramer, shoot the Escanaba Public Safety Department fire truck’s hose during Kramer’s Hero Program experience. The program, which promotes students in area schools to perform random acts of kindness, has been a huge success since it began in 2016.

ESCANABA — Escanaba Public Safety Department’s Hero Program has been a big success since its inception in 2016.

According to Tabitha Marchese, the public safety officer who spearheaded the program, the overall goal is promote a positive relationship between officers and kids, while also teaching them to always be kind and to perform random acts of kindness.

Students from Lemmer, Webster, Holy Name and Soo Hill Elementary Schools are recognized every month and are either given a ride to school in a fire truck or have lunch with an officer, explained Marchese.

Once the student has been seen performing an act of kindness or doing something good, they are given a “ticket,” said Marchese.

“It helps promote them to do good,” said Marchese.

Courtesy photo Webster Elementary students Kyra, left, and Kallay Batchelor pose for a photo on the front of a Escanaba Public Safety Department fire truck during their Hero Program experience.

Tickets can be given out to students who help a fellow student, have lunch with someone who may be eating alone, assist a teacher in the classroom, or otherwise do good.

Most recently, Marchese said the program has expanded into the local home school community. Acts of good are noticed by the parents, including when they help around the house or perform an act of kindness in the community.

At the end of the month, the names of students from kindergarten through third grade who have received the tickets are placed into a random drawing where two students are chosen.

In addition to the ride to school and lunch, “heroes” are given a gift bag from the Escanaba Public Safety Department that is filled with a water bottle, note pads, stickers, and other goodies.

Marchese said she has noticed a boost in the number of kids who approach her and are more comfortable talking with her since the program started.

“I think it helps them see us in another light,” said Marchese.

Local businesses have also been a huge aspect to the Hero Program, noted Marchese. Restaurants around the area donate the lunches for the officers and students. Other fire departments have also joined in on the program, including the Ford River Volunteer Fire Department and Escanaba Volunteer Fire Department, to give students rides to school and allow the kids to spray the fire hose.

Marchese said she is happy with how the program adding its fun for both the officers and kids involved.