WAYNE, NJ – At each Wayne Town Council meeting, Fire Commissioner Bob Minarick stands at the podium and delivers his “Fire Report” to the Council and Administration. Last month, he did something special because he had received something special from Grade Eight students in Kaitlyn McSweeney’s class at Anthony Wayne Middle School.

Minarick had received a package in the mail that held over a dozen hand-made cards from the students thanking Wayne’s volunteer firefighters, volunteer EMS Squads and members of the Wayne Police Department for their service to the town.

The usually stoic Fire Commissioner was clearly touched by the gesture from McSweeney and her class. You could feel the emotion in his words as he read the letter out loud:

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“Dear Local Heroes,

On September 11th this year, my eighth-grade students at Anthony Wayne Middle School heard and read stories, watched “Boatlift” to learn and remember the day in 2001. After our discussions, we decided to do something good. We wanted to thank local first responders in Wayne for your services to the community.

You are constantly putting yourselves in danger for the good of others, and the students and I wanted to extend our gratitude.

Enclosed are various letters and cards for your department. Some may be specific “thank you” cards for services on September 11th, but they all sum up our gratitude for your everyday actions.

Thank you for everything you do. Please stay safe.


Ms. Kaitlyn McSweeney and the 8th graders at AWMS”

One card in the package was simply signed: “Sincerely Riley” and said: “Thank you for everything. Thank you for putting your lives second and risking it all for people you have never met. Thank you for keeping us safe! I’m so grateful.”

“Thank you for volunteering your own time and energy to keep our community safe. Without people like you, citizens would lose their homes and everything they worked for,” wrote Matt Pritchard in his card.

The cards were a simple gesture but held so much importance for Minarick and his crews.

We sometimes need recognition for the things we do, at the very least its always appreciated.  It’s clear that our first responders don't do what they do for thanks. They do it, because it’s in their character to help strangers; to risk their lives for no benefit of their own. 

Not all of us have this something special, which is why it’s important for us to take the time to thank those who do. McSweeney's class reminds us to take the time to thank those that we rely on when things are at their worst.

Have you thanked a first responder today?