Hinesville’s Firehouse Subs franchise owners Eddie Wells and Mitul Desal hosted an event Tuesday at their restaurant to celebrate the award of a $4,100 public-safety grant to the Hinesville Fire Department.
A half-dozen Hinesville firefighters, along with Chief Lamar Cook and HFD public-safety coordinator Capt. Andra Hart, accepted the grant donation on behalf of the HFD. The firefighters brought along one the city’s fire engines, which made a fitting backdrop for a photo opportunity with City Councilman David Anderson and Mayor Jim Thomas, along with Firehouse Subs’ local staff members.
Also on hand for the celebration were Firehouse Subs regional managers Leah Coleman, Cristie Titchenell, Sarah Wells, Stephen Proctor and Jessica Parker. Public-relations manager Crystal Burnery, marketing manager Brittany Johnson and Public Safety Foundation coordinator Jacquelyn Gubbins attended as well.
“Our child car safety seat program has given away over 950 child-safety seats for needy families since 2000,” said Hart, who explained the newly purchased seats would be installed by HFD officers. “Our department is certified as a child-safety-seat fitting station. We want to thank Firehouse Subs for this grant, which allows us to continue giving back to the community.”
Hart said the HFD already had received the grant funds, and he ordered more than 100 child-safety seats. The seats will be distributed at a later date to eligible applicants. Following his remarks, two HFD officers demonstrated the correct installation of a child-safety seat in a vehicle parked outside the restaurant.
Hart’s own daughter, Aydra Hart, 1, was fitted for a new safety seat while her mother, Hinesville public-relations manager Krystal Hart, stood nearby — just in case Aydra grew apprehensive about the strangers putting her in a car seat.
“One of the most important things we do is take care of our kids,” said Thomas, who called HFD’s child-car-safety-seat program an important program for saving children’s lives. “On behalf of the city and the city council, I want to thank Firehouse Subs for this (grant).”
It took some coordinating to get everyone outside, but Wells rounded up most his day-shift staffers for a photo in front of the fire engine with fire department personnel and city leaders. While staffers smiled for the cameras, the restaurant continued to operate with regional managers meeting, greeting and serving customers.
“I’ve done three of these grant donations for my store in Brunswick,” Wells said. “One was for a thermal camera, one was for bullet-proof vests and one was for full fireman’s gear. These were over $10,000 grants.”
He said HFD specifically asked for funds for the child-safety seats since that is its current need. He added that he will be working on other grants for HFD and law-enforcement entities through the end of the year.
A child-safety seat advocate also attended the event. Kristie Quick and her daughters, Madison, 12, and Mackenzie, 7, voiced support for the city’s child-safety-seat program. Quick said that when Mackenzie was 2, she was secured in her child-safety seat in the front seat of Quick’s grandmother’s pickup. The truck had a tire blowout in Waycross.
“The blowout sent them across four lanes of traffic until the truck rammed into a guard rail,” Quick said. “My grandmother was seriously injured and had to spend the next several months in a wheelchair. But Mackenzie’s only injuries were bruises where the safety straps held her in the seat. I thank God that she was properly installed in the safety seat.”
Quick, whose husband, Aaron, is the youth and music minister for Gum Branch Baptist Church, said they now are vocal advocates for child-safety seats.
According to Firehouse Subs’ website, the company’s Public Safety Foundation was established shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Since then, their foundation has awarded nearly $7 million to fire departments, emergency-medical services and law-enforcement entities in 38 states and Puerto Rico. Georgia’s “hometown heroes” have received more than $633,500.