FORT STEWART, Ga. — The Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Fire Emergency Services have been carrying out birthday shout outs during the COVID-19 pandemic as a creative way to celebrate and make a military child feel special for their birthday.
In order for a Family to request a fire truck to come to their house and wish their child a happy birthday, Families must submit a request at least 48 hours in advance. From there, the fire department contacts the Family and gives them a slotted time for when they will come. On the scheduled day, a fire truck drives by the house with sirens on, along with a birthday song playing in the background, and announces “happy birthday” for the child to hear.
Steven Kelly, the fire chief for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Fire Emergency Services, said he organized the program after he saw the fire department in Richmond Hill do shout outs for kids in their community. He was inspired to bring it back and spread the wealth.
“Kids can’t have birthday parties during the pandemic if they’re following the social distancing guidelines,” said Kelly. “I thought it would be a great idea to go out and provide a service to the community by having birthday shout outs.”
Jay McGraw, the assistant chief for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Fire Emergency Services, said since the first birthday shout out started on April 10, several Families in the Marne Community have requested to have birthday shout outs.
“The shout outs are restricted to the personnel who live on post,” said McGraw. “We get emails from Soldiers in the surrounding areas requesting to have a shout out but unfortunately, we must stay on post in case we have to respond to an emergency.”
McGraw said the program shows kids that there are people from all over the installation coming to support them to wish them a happy birthday. He said that after the shout out event, the parents can add onto that and remind the children they are special.
“Once the social distancing restrictions are lifted, kids will probably go back to their normal schedule of being in school and having birthday parties, so this is something fun to do in the meantime,” said Kelly.
To request a birthday shout out, email email@example.com for Fort Stewart or firstname.lastname@example.org for Hunter Army Airfield.