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Local teen encourages emergency workers

Sidewalk chalk became a fun at-home activity to help folks get out of the house during the pandemic. However, one Suffolk teen decided to take her art beyond her driveway.

Ally Campbell is 13 years old with an ambition to help people and bring smiles to faces, especially those who never got the luxury of staying at home during the lockdown. This includes Suffolk Fire & Rescue Station 5.

“Mostly, I just wanted to spread joy, because they don’t get as much appreciation as they need to,” said Ally.

Ally rides her bike to Station 5 every day to draw something for the workers there, regardless of the heat or cold the Virginia weather throws her way. She even asks the first responders what they would want her to draw. Her art has varied from Princess Peach, a 9/11 memorial, and a phoenix.

“It’s hard with the commitment, but worth it to see their faces light up,” said Ally.

Her dedication has not gone unnoticed. Suffolk Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Charles Jolly noted that the community bent over backward at the beginning of the pandemic to show its appreciation. The station received donations of homemade masks, home-baked goods, pallets of beverages, food from all kinds of vendors, community drive-throughs, and many other forms of gratitude.

“During the summer, the donations and support have waned back to pre-COVID days when we would get an occasional “atta-boy” from the community,” said Jolly. “However, Ally’s artwork and dedication have been consistent throughout the year, which continues to give us promise and comfort, knowing that someone consistently cares for us. She simply puts a smile on my face each time I see her and her generosity.”

This act of kindness stems not only from Ally’s big heart but also from her desire to pursue a career as a firefighter or paramedic when she gets older.

“I’ve always wanted to go into the medical field,” she said. “It’s nice to give back.”

To the first responders at Station 5, Ally serves as a reminder that the community still appreciates essential workers, even if the applause has died down.

“The persistent dedication she displays reminds us that her support also transcends all generations, which gives us a strong sense of encouragement from and for our younger generation,” said Jolly.

The year 2020 has been hard on everyone, especially first responders. Jolly noted that 2020 has brought a different set of challenges that many may not realize.

“Truthfully, this has been one of the hardest times in recent history for our profession,” said Jolly. “Although Sept. 11, when we were attacked by foreign terrorists, there was a beginning and end to the attack with a prolonged period of cleanup and recovery. During the year of 2020, we are in a constant state of both being attacked and having to defend ourselves with no end in sight.”

As COVID-19 numbers rise this winter, Ally serves as a reminder to keep encouraging essential workers throughout the pandemic.