Dispatchers helped out Santa Claus

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The 911 emergency communications dispatchers are at the beck and call of all Suffolk citizens 24-7, and to be sure they stood ready to fill in the gap when a local youth might have missed Santa’s visit.

Sergeant John J. &uot;JJ&uot; Marx, communications supervisor of the 911 division of the Suffolk Police Department, believes he has the greatest team of emergency communicators in public service. Last week, he was nearly about to pop his shirt buttons when his team brought a little boy to Wal-Mart for a shopping spree the child is not likely to forget.

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&uot;Our dispatchers met with the child at 9 a.m. and he was astonished when he was told that he was going shopping for Christmas,&uot; said Marx. &uot;He was told to look for a coat, jeans, shoes, and lots of other clothes as well as toys. He seemed to be thrilled after recovering from such a great surprise.&uot;

The child was selected by Suffolk Social Services, and one of his wishes for Christmas was a PlayStation 2. He not only chose that special gift during his shopping spree, but also plenty of extras.

&uot;He was just so excited and having such a great time that he didn’t want his shopping trip to end,&uot; said Del Shannon, a shift supervisor in the 911 division. &uot;Sgt. Marx suggested this project to provide Christmas for one of the city’s underprivileged children as a way to give back to the community. We decided that this was an excellent idea in lieu of our office giving gifts to each other.&uot;

Accompanying Marx, Dispatcher Shannon, and the little boy were several other dispatchers including Renita Goodwyn, Andrea Beale, Supervisor Rozalind Britt, Christina Gardener, and Beth Gayle, however, all 17 dispatchers contributed to this event.

&uot;They were there with us in spirit since it was Christmas, a time of love and sharing,&uot; said Shannon. &uot;All our dispatchers took part in raising funds for this event by holding candy sales and doing car washes. Prior to this Christmas, we’d used the money for a Christmas party and gifts, but this year, we put it to excellent use and we plan to do this as a Christmas tradition.&uot;

Marx added that while most people would never recognize a 911 dispatcher out in public, they are the person first in line to speak with anyone who dials the emergency number.

&uot;They never see these people and although they help the public all day long every day, no one has a clue as to the compassion and generosity of spirit they exhibit on a daily basis. I feel this event was an excellent example of the superior people who work behind the scenes for the citizens of Suffolk.&uot;