School’s holiday baskets include smoke detectors

first_imgEAST WHITTIER – Christmas trees, lights and candles are the hallmarks of a festive holiday season, but they’re also a major cause for concern for Charles Royce. As principal of the 1,000-student Granada Middle School, Royce is keenly aware of the fire dangers facing students and their families every winter – from dried-out pine trees and malfunctioning decorative lights to the increased use of electric space heaters to warm the home. So when school staffers met this fall to organize the annual Christmas food basket giveaway, Royce had just one request: Include at least one smoke detector for each family to install in the home. “Accidents happen, and the ones who seem to get hurt the most are the kids,” said Royce, 60. “Our priority is to have safety for the kids.” According to the National Fire Prevention Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of about 210 house fires from 2002 to 2005 that began with Christmas trees. Holiday or decorative lights were involved in an average of 240 home structure fires per year in that same time period, NFPA figures showed. Kevin Holzworth, Lowe’s merchandising manager, worked with smoke detector manufacturer Kidde to coordinate the donation, as well as the handling and shipping. “Coming from a school, it was a very compelling request,” Holzworth said. “We wanted to be a part of that, and that’s why it’s nice to work for Lowe’s. We were glad to be in a position to help.” The school was able to give several detectors to each family that didn’t have one in the home, with instructions to follow up with Royce and let him know they had installed them. “He’s got a heart as big as Texas,” Edwards said. “He’s always considered our students as his kids, and this issue just weighs on him. He just wanted to make sure they had this fire protection. “And I’m going to be a Lowe’s customer until the day I die,” Edwards added. “I always liked them – but now I love them.” (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champHis suggestion led to a larger discussion about fire safety, which prompted teachers Steffanie Edwards and Boel Wille to survey students on how many had smoke detectors in their homes. About 75 didn’t, Edwards said – so she and her husband sent off a letter to Lowe’s in mid-November, asking the home-improvement company to donate one detector for every student that didn’t have one. By Thanksgiving, the detectors were in – except instead of donating 75, Lowe’s had sent them about 450. “They called and said one’s not enough – you have to count all the bedrooms, the living room, the upstairs rooms – so what we’re going to do is send 450,” Royce said. “And, I was just speechless at that point. “They understood the message we were trying to communicate, that we were concerned about the kids’ safety during the holiday season. And to have them understand that as strongly as they did was overwhelming.” last_img

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