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Suffolk teachers help first responders

Faculty at Kilby Shores Elementary School gathered a sizable donation of critical supplies for Suffolk first responders.

It started when teacher assistant Erin Kessinger emailed Lorri Banks, principal at Kilby Shores Elementary School. Kessinger shared a Facebook post about items that Suffolk first responders needed during the coronavirus pandemic, and one thing that caught Kessinger’s eye was “hand sanitizer.”

“I work in a kindergarten classroom (that’s) just full of hand sanitizer, so I figured every teacher probably had bottles and bottles of hand sanitizer (left) unused,” Kessinger said.

Hand sanitizer is one of the essential items on school supply lists at the beginning of each school year, Banks said, which are purchased by the parents. There was plenty left to go around after classes were canceled for the rest of the school year.

Banks spread the word to other faculty members via email, who all explained where they could find spare hand sanitizer inside the school, along with other classroom supplies.

“They let me know where they were in the classrooms and we just went in and gathered them up,” she said.

On Monday, Suffolk Fire and Rescue personnel visited the Kilby Shores Elementary School and collected 200 bottles of hand sanitizer, 18 containers of disinfectant wipes, and five boxes of nitrile exam gloves — amounting to hundreds of pairs of gloves in various sizes.

This stockpile will join other donations from the Suffolk community and be distributed among Suffolk first responders to aid them in this fight, according to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief William Kessinger Sr., who is married to Erin Kessinger.

“It’s greatly needed, and it will be used throughout the city,” Kessinger Sr. said. He hopes the generosity of Kilby Shores faculty — a number of whom have first-responder family themselves — inspires other schools to do the same.

Donations of the following items for Suffolk first responders are encouraged, preferably commercial-grade and in original packaging:

  • N95 masks in large, medium and universal sizes
  • Nitrile exam gloves in extra-large, large, medium and small sizes
  • Eye protection such as safety glasses and goggles
  • Surgical masks with or without fluid shield protection/face shields
  • Protective surgical gowns
  • Hand sanitizer (unopened, gel and wipes)

Donations will be shared between Suffolk first responders, and may be dropped off by appointment only at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Station 6, 300 Kings Fork Road. The point of contact is Capt. Leon Ratliff, who can be reached by phone at 514-4544.

For more information, visit facebook.com/suffolkfirerescue or facebook.com/suffolkpolicedepartment.