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Dressed in lime green T-shirts, the color for lymphoma awareness, children and staff of Gingerbread House preschool, welcomed Roanoke Rapids firefighters for their fire safety program this morning.

The green T-shirts were prominent during Battalion Chief Kevin Hawkins’ fight against mantle cell lymphoma, a disease he succumbed to on October 22.

At the back of the room, a banner with the Team Hawkins hashtag was hung on a wall and signed by parents and staff.

“I really like your shirts,” Chief Jason Patrick told the children and staff before the program. 

He later said, “We had a tough week last week. This really helps us a lot.”

Tammy Moseley, owner of the preschool, said after the program, “I just thought they always come every year. They do this for everybody. They serve the community.”

She said, referring to Hawkins and the firefighters, “I know they are hurting. I hate what happened to him. It was a tremendous loss for the community. I just hope this helps them.”

Lieutenant Michael Butts served as host of the department’s fire safety puppet show, which teaches the children to stop, drop and roll and cautions them to not play with matches.

Butts was visibly touched by the banner and the children and staff dressed in the #teamhawkins/brotherhood T-shirts. “We really, really love your shirts,” he said before beginning the program.

Afterward, he said he wasn’t expecting the show of support. “It shows the community does care about us. This is awesome. It shows we have a great community. This is still tough for us.”