By Alicia Lacy
The Cove Herald
As the beginning of a new school year nears, the Copperas Cove community gave their Saturday morning to help families prepare their children for the upcoming school year.
Hundreds of parents and children filled the Central Fire Station in Copperas Cove where children received their immunizations, and about a mile down the road, hundreds more received a backpack filled with school supplies at North Pointe Church.
For the Fire Department's annual Shots Through the Firehouse, 132 children received their required immunizations for the new school year and 295 immunizations were administered.
Battalion Chief Mike Ramminger, who coordinated the event, said the turnout was a little lower than usual, but the event was successful because it showed the immunizations the department hosts every month throughout the year are effective.
"Since the beginning of the program, we have given over 10,000 vaccines to over 5,000 children," said Firefighter/Paramedic Kellie Mozek, in a release.
For five hours, the Copperas Cove firefighters and personnel, with the assistance of the Refuge Corporation, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Copperas Cove Independent School District and other community organizations, administered required immunizations to the children.
Celebrating the department's 10th year providing the immunizations, Copperas Cove Fire Chief Mike Baker said the immunization clinic is important because it's a preventative measure for children and is a training opportunity for first responders.
"Preventative medicines keep kids from getting sick, and it prevents emergency calls," Baker said.
In addition, Baker said handling the large amount of children who came through Saturday was a "training opportunity to gear emergency responders if the H1N1 virus became a full-blown pandemic."
Alexis Hunter of Copperas Cove brought her three sons to the station Saturday to take care of their required immunizations for the year.
With two of her sons entering kindergarten and her younger son entering pre-kindergarten, Hunter said she found out her younger son needed his immunization shots during pre-registration.
"It's convenient because it's on the weekend so I don't have to miss work," Hunter said.
As a way to ease the stress of getting a shot, the fire department had hot dogs, snow cones, a jump house, provided by the city's Parks and Recreation Department, and a burn trailer simulator, provided by the Gatesville Volunteer Fire Department. Sparky the fire dog and Jingles the clown also made an appearance.
And for the parents, Marie McCord, outreach counselor for the Texas Health Steps program, provided literature about health care for children up to 20 years.
McCord said the program allows for children to get regular check-ups and dental visits and provides transportation for the children to their appointments through the Medical Transportation program.
While health officials administered shots, the Copperas Cove Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association made Kiddo Cards for parents.
Kiddo Cards are ID cards for parents that provide their child's basic identifying information in the event of a missing child. The cards are solely for parents' use and are not processed or entered into any kind of database.
Violet Grant of Killeen brought her daughter for her immunization shots. Grant said she was thankful for the service.
"I think it's really important because sometimes people can't afford to have their immunizations," Grant said Saturday while waiting for a Kiddo Card. "Prevention is good and I thank them for doing this."
The cards display a recent photo of the child, the child's name, address, date of birth, phone number, school he or she attends, height, weight, eye color and hair color.
A total of 115 cards were made and distributed for the parents Saturday.
The fire station hosts an immunization clinic the first Saturday of every month at the Central Fire Station at 415 S. Main St.
Baker said they plan to have the CPAAA available each month during the clinic.
During their third annual Operation Backpack, members of the North Pointe Church distributed nearly 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies.
Pastor Brent Sanders said the backpack giveaway is a way for the church to reach out.
"It's what we do. We reach up, in and out to the community," Sanders said. "If we can help them and portray the love of God to people and if we can make life easier, it's a win-win for the kids and the families."
The backpacks and supplies were available to anyone who came to the church.
Supplies included folders, spiral notebooks, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, erasers and a Bible, with a scripture printed on the backpack.
Sanders said there are extra backpacks. Anyone who wanted a backpack but did not receive one Saturday can visit North Pointe Church at 1115 N. Main St.