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Gilbert firefighters take kids back-to-school shopping

A Gilbert firefighter shops with a young girl. (Facebook Photo)

GILBERT, Ariz. -- Gilbert firefighters brought 56 underprivileged kids to a Kohl's store at Baseline and Cooper roads Friday to buy things to help them get ready for school.

"We want every kid to start the school year with a fresh pair of shoes, nice clothes, and a backpack filled with [school supplies]," said Gilbert Fire Department Public Information Officer Mike Connor.

The kids were each given a $100 gift card.

"Each gets to shop with a firefighter," Connor said. "With all of the discounts at Kohl's, we each got about $140 of clothes per kid."

Each child was selected by teachers who were asked which of their students was most in need.

One of them was 9-year-old fourth grader Jasmine Morales.

"It was fun," she said. "I got my backpack, my clothes, my shoes and my lunchbox."

Connor talked about one kindergartner that stuck out in his mind.

"She wanted a Disney 'Frozen' dress, and she was so excited about that dress," said Connor. "Another little girl said that she's never been shopping before. It was a tearjerker. It really puts things into perspective."

This is the ninth straight year that Gilbert firefighters have hosted the Shop with a Firefighter back-to-school event for children.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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