Jeremiah “Jay” Dawson thought someone was in trouble when he saw a parade of fire trucks round the corner near his home Monday, Oct. 14.
Firefighters from the South Haven Fire Department weren’t responding to someone in trouble. Instead, they came in force to honor Jay for his recent efforts to assist his community.
Jay, who will turn 8 years old on Thursday, Oct. 17, took part of his birthday money to construct a “blessing box.” The box, installed in the family’s front yard on Capitol Road, serves as a neighborhood food pantry.
Letters on the bright green box tell people to take what they need and give what they can.
“I just wanted to help other people,” Jay said.
Firefighter Vicki Kalmar presented Jay with a certificate and Fire Chief Bill Lundy presented him with a $60 Menards gift certificate to purchase materials for the next blessing box for the community.
Firefighters also contributed boxes of food for the small pantry.
“This is truly what South Haven is about. This is what my sense of community is,” Kalmar said, adding numerous firefighters and other community members saw a Facebook post about Jeremiah’s blessing box and firefighters decided they wanted to recognize the young man for his efforts.
“I am the proudest dad around. To me it is unbelievable a 7-year-old wants to do this,” said Jeremiah’s dad Justin Giles.
Giles said his son, who races BMX and goes by the nickname J Turbo, wants to not only build other blessing boxes in the South Haven community, but wants to challenge other youngsters, especially his fellow BMX riders, to take the idea to their communities.