Teen volunteer creates comfort bags

Published 9:50 pm Thursday, November 7, 2019

As a volunteer with the Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department and now with the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department, Peyton Rose has seen how children can be affected during a traumatic experience.

It’s what spurred the 18-year-old Eagle Scout, a fourth-generation firefighter, to create comfort bags as his community project to help child victims of fires, accidents or other emergencies.

“Ironically, I saw it on television,” Rose said of the idea. “Somebody in Virginia Beach, I believe, had done it and it was just something I thought would be a different idea for an Eagle Scout project that most people don’t think of.”

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Rose, a senior at Isle of Wight Academy with plans to study fire science in college and become a firefighter, put together about 70 comfort bags for children aged 3 to 10, with each bag containing a coloring book, crayons, a stuffed animal and/or a small toy. He also assembled another 30 adult emergency bags, which have in them a small flashlight, notepad, pen, a toothbrush kit, a food gift card and an information card that lists things to do in the aftermath of a fire and listing contact information for the American Red Cross, utilities and insurance.

“It’s just to help people in fires or accidents who may not have their possessions with them anymore,” said Rose, who has been a volunteer firefighter since he was 16. “And I felt like it was something that needed to be done.”

Rose solicited donations from family and friends, as well as local businesses such as Chick-fil-A and First Team Automotive, which donated the bags. He raised money to buy the things that were not donated, with any money remaining from the project staying with Suffolk Boy Scout Troop 1 to continue the project.

Rose and a team of people put together all of the bags at Fire Station 6 in one evening before they got distributed, and Suffolk Fire and Rescue now carries both the children and adult bags on Battalions 1 and 2, Safety 1 and EMS 1, as one or more of those vehicles respond to any major city incident.

And while it’s been about a year since Rose put together the comfort bags, his efforts earned him a Citizen Appreciation Award Thursday at the Suffolk Fire & Rescue Awards and Recognition Ceremony.

“It feels really good to be honored at such a special event,” Rose said.

He said he is gratified that he has been able to do something to help people following a traumatic event.

“It’s just something that me, personally, being a firefighter and seeing these people after the events,” Rose said, “and after we leave, that’s it. There’s nothing, for the most part, to help them. They’re just stuck there and if they don’t have family or whatnot, then it’s just them.”