Warren Student Collects Donations to Help First Responders in Guatemala

Posted on 08/23/2018
Warren Student Collects Donations to Help First Responders in Guatemala

When a natural disaster strikes close to home, it’s hard to sit back and not take action. Watching news coverage of the aftermath of the Volcano of Fire eruption in Guatemala, Dominic Rodriguez, a third grader at Warren Elementary, felt the need to do something to help. Dominic has dual citizenship in both the United States and Guatemala, and has family members that live nearby and were affected by the eruption.

Videos and photographs show firefighters with worn out, broken down, and beaten up equipment that barely gets the job done. “They just didn’t have any equipment to actually fight fires,” said Dominic. “It made me feel sad that so many people are just dying from it.”

Dominic started looking for opportunities to collect donations that could directly benefit the Guatemalan firefighters. About a month into his efforts, Dominic received news that he would be receiving a large donation from the Lake Saint Louis Fire District. “We donated used turn-out coats, pants, boots, helmets, gloves, and hoods,” said Assistant Fire Chief Chad Wagner. “This gear was not usable by our district due to its age. We had replaced all of our gear and had this in storage, not knowing what we were going to do with it.”

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) limits all personal protective equipment in the United States to a ten-year shelf life. Guatemala is not regulated by the NFPA. “The departments that will get this equipment have gear that is a lot older than this, or no gear at all,” said Wagner.

Dominic’s efforts were covered by KSDK, which did a short video on his efforts. According to Stacey Rodriguez, Dominic’s mother, he knocked the interview out of the park. She cites Warren’s Leader in Me program for his success. “Dominic was in the Leader in Me program for the last three years,” says Rodriguez. “Through the program, Warren administration specifically and purposefully created opportunities to speak in front of large audiences of staff, students, and parents.”

Even Assistant Chief Wagner was impressed by Dominic’s speaking skills. “He was so composed and mature for being so young,” said Wagner. “The media didn’t phase him. He had an adult answer and reasoning for every question asked.”

The Leader in Me Program teaches twenty-first century leadership and life skills to students. “Last year we achieved Leader in Me Lighthouse status,” said Assistant Principal Megan Beckham. “It’s something that’s ingrained in our culture at this point and we teach and promote the 7 habits starting with kindergarten.”

“We never saw this news coverage coming and never thought to prepare our eight year old for rare moments like these. Thanks to the Leader in Me program, he was ready, knowledgeable, and prepared,” said Rodriguez.

Dominic is still collecting donations for a trip to Guatemala later this year. While most items will be shipped before his trip, Dominic and his father will be hand delivering a box to the firefighters. Boxes and cash donations are being accepted to help cover shipping. Donations can be made through The Summit Church (select Hispanic Ministry from the drop-down menu). Congratulations on being a leader, Dominic!

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