WOOSTER, Ohio-- The tree in the lobby of the City of Wooster Safety Center honors first responders who are no longer with their families this holiday season.
They all died heroes, putting their lives on the line while trying to save others.
"Since this is a combined building with police and fire, I thought it would be neat to put together a memorial tree with fallen firefighters as well as police officers," said Wooster Officer April Teichmer.
Teichmer, whose husband is a Wooster firefighter, said she came up with the idea after seeing how other departments were honoring fallen officers. The tree is decorated with ornaments honoring first responders nationwide who made the ultimate sacrifice in 2018, serving their communities.
"Just to remember those that can't be with us during this holiday season. I hope that this will be displayed year round, what I would like to do is keep all the fallen from 2018 on the tree until police week of next year, which will be in May," she said.
The tree has 142 ornaments to recognize fallen police officers, including K-9 officers, and 81 ornaments for firefighters. The tree includes Westerville officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli who were killed in February, Mentor officer Mathew Mazany who died in June, and Cleveland officer Vu Nguyen who passed away in July.
In the few days since the tree was put on display, four more officers across the country have lost their lives.
"Parkview Elementary School third and fourth graders volunteered their time, their recess time to make these ornaments," Teichmer said.
"We provided them with all the supplies, and the names and end of watch for each of the officers. And they went through and decorated all of the ornaments themselves," Teichmer said.
The ornaments and supplies were donated by the Wooster Citizens Academy Alumni Association.