Anaheim firefighter, police officer hold virtual story times


With in-person programs on hold, Anaheim Fire & Rescue has partnered with the Anaheim Public Library to provide a community favorite virtually: story time.

Frankie Mora, who serves as a firefighter and paramedic for Anaheim Fire & Rescue, participated in the library’s virtual story time with videos uploaded to social media.

Mora’s videos received over 2,400 views on Instagram and the Anaheim Public Library estimates its virtual programs have reached over 115,000 community members collectively.

Mora, who is bilingual, read “Firefighters to the Rescue” by Kersten Hamilton and Rich Davis in English and “Bomberos al Rescate” by Alana Olsen and Anita Mora in Spanish, offering his own commentary along the way.

“It was such an honor,” Mora said. “Often times, I forget how important it is to keep our community involved and informed especially through these tough times.”

Many children and families of the Anaheim community look forward to the library’s story time program as a chance to learn and come together. The library’s in-person story time attendance ranges from 20 to 56 people and now virtual story times are receiving thousands of views online, said Chloe Van Stralendorff of the Anaheim Public Library.

While the library works with many city departments to emphasize literacy and reach the community, Van Stralendorff says the library’s partnership with Anaheim Fire & Rescue allows safety messaging that is essential for young members of the community.

The library “wanted to highlight safety tips and stories for children so they are educated and can take advantage of the resources available to them,” Van Stralendorff said.

About 18,000 books have been picked up from the Anaheim Public Library since its curbside pickup program was enacted in March.

The Anaheim Police Department has been a consistent supporter of the library, checking out books for their own virtual program: Cristina’s Reading Corner.

Like the library, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anaheim PD wanted to maintain connection with their community and continue to offer essential safety messaging for children.

“We do a lot of community outreach when it comes to safety…we believe it’s best to start when they are young,” said Karla Santillan of Anaheim PD’s Traffic Section.

Typically, this outreach occurs at schools. With kids at home, however, Anaheim PD innovated its approach and utilized social media to create Cristina’s Reading Corner: a virtual story time where Christina Pacheco, a Traffic Office Specialist, is joined by guests to read books that discuss different safety topics.

Sgt. Shane Carringer, the public information officer for both the Anaheim Police Department and Anaheim Fire & Rescue, recently participated in the program.

“Carringer is a breath of fresh air,” Santillan said.

Carringer read his children’s favorite book: “Room on the Broom” by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Following the story, he offered an important safety message for his audience: “slow down and drive safely.”

“At community events we reach 300 or 400 people, but through social media we reach thousands,” Santillan said. “It is just one more way to get our message out there.”

This virtual community outreach has been incredibly successful.

“We are still here for our community in this unique time, in a unique way” Stralendorff said.

Mora felt similarly.

“Social media outreach has allowed Anaheim Fire & Rescue to continue to keep that close relationship with all the residents that we work so hard to protect and serve each and every day,” Mora said. “It brings me so much joy to let them know and show them that we are still here for them.”