The Charlotte Fire Department is helping prepare students for the upcoming school year.
The fire department is opening its bay doors to collect school supplies for students in need for WSOC-TV's 9 School Tools program.
"The Charlotte Fire Department is a community-based fire department, and we engage in all levels, not just emergency services prevention and other core missions," Johnson said. "We are based in the community and want to be able to help out in any way we can."
Over the past several years, Charlotte Fire stations have turned into donation drop-off spots for community initiatives.
Charlotte Fire partnered with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, American Red Cross, and WBTV during the month of May for Military Appreciation Month. The collaboration collected thousands of essential items for Mecklenburg County Veterans Services.
In December, the fire department helped collect over 30,000 coats for WSOC-TV Steve's Coats for Kids program.
"Kids are our future, and we need to engage them young to make sure they're on the right path and they'll be productive members of our society," Johnson said.
Having over 40 Charlotte Fire donation locations gives the school tools program four times the number of collection points in Mecklenburg County.
"What we normally do is provide emergency services when called, but we do engage the community in many ways and this gives us another opportunity," he said.
All book bags donated at Charlotte Fire will be accepted in the loving memory of Michael Johnson.
Michael and his 23-year-old cousin, Mechelle Morrison, both died after a cooking fire in May 2018 on Rose Thorn Place in Charlotte.
Michael's guardian, Dominique Bradley, is using this tragedy to protect other families from the same heartbreak. She was his legal guardian from the age of 5, until the day he died at just 9 years old.
Bradley is doing that by making sure children Michael's age know his story and understand how to protect themselves from fire dangers.
This is the fifth year that Bradley has partnered with Charlotte Fire through her program Michael's House for a backpack drive in Michael's honor.
She's working to fill the backpacks with supplies kids need for school and fire safety materials to help protect them at home.
Fire Safety and Prevention
A fire can become life-threatening in just two minutes. A residence can be engulfed in flames in five minutes. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire. Follow these tips to make sure it keeps you safe:
Replace batteries twice a year unless you are using 10-year lithium batteries.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement.
Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 10 years or according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can be a deadly mistake.
Audible alarms are available for visually impaired people and smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the hearing impaired.
Home fires can be preventable. The following are simple steps that each of us can take to prevent a tragedy when cooking:
Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. Turn off the stove if you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time.
Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
Keep a fire extinguisher accessible.
"So no one has to feel the way we feel in the end and no child will feel the way Michael felt in his last moments," said Bradley.
"Being able to honor the memory of Michael is very special for Charlotte Fire," Johnson said.
Since 1997, in partnership with Classroom Central and Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the WSOC-TV 9 School Tools program has collected school supplies, which are then distributed free to students in grades K-12.
"People give whatever you can give — whatever's in your heart," Johnson said. "Even if it's an eraser, a pack of pencils, those will be sent to good use at Classroom Central and will help out students in need."
The school supplies will be distributed at the Classroom Central's Free Store, a retail operation where teachers and other school personnel from eligible schools can shop for free supplies throughout the academic year.
Classroom Central serves teachers and students in nearly 200 schools across six school districts in the Charlotte Region. Supplies are distributed through its free store, mobile free store and several other community-supported programs.
All materials distributed are used to create inviting learning environments and to support the academic and personal growth of students in need.
Donations can be made through Aug. 31, 2022.
Find A Charlotte Fire Donation Location Near You.