By Marc Emral
LAWRENCEBURG – The Kennedy family made its annual delivery of stuffed toys again this year.
This year it was to the Lawrenceburg Fire Department, in memory of Michael R. Kennedy, the former fire chief and police chief in the city.
Stuffed animals will be used by the department to give to children who are experiencing some kind of trauma.
Kennedy’s son, Kevin Sr., his mother Elaine and uncle Patrick presented the stuffed animals to Lawrenceburg Assistant Fire Chief Rob Schuette at the firehouse on Ludlow Hill.
“To give them something from us, hopefully, makes things a little bit better,” Schuette said. “They’re having their worst day. We’re giving back something to let them know that they will be able to socialize with us for the rest of their life. That, hey, you know, these guys do come help.”
Michael Kennedy was a member of the Indiana Volunteer Fire Association from 1969 until his death in 2019, as a member of departments in Lawrenceburg and Busseron Township, Knox County, Tennessee.
He held almost every rank, including chief. He worked on the Arson Task Force, was a trainer, and helped create the Lawrenceburg Fire Department as it is today.
Michael was not the only Kennedy fighting fires. His brother Patrick had 25 years of service, and his sons, Kevin Sr. and Tim, served with the Lawrenceburg department. His eldest son Shawn served in a department in southwestern Indiana.
The donation is given annually in the hope that the littlest victims of fires in the community will have something to hold onto for a little comfort, according to Michael’s wife, Elaine Dean Kennedy.
“Mike truly felt everyone was a part of his own family when the alarm rang. He wanted to protect his neighbors and his city,” she said.
The family wants to keep his memory alive because this community meant everything to him.
The Kennedys spend almost all year looking for the stuffed animals that they buy. Schuette said the department keeps the animals in the trucks and life squad units, along with a few personal items.
“We also have these displaced kits that the chiefs came up with, which include toiletries and stuff like that,” Schuette said. “We can give them to the people because the Red Cross can’t always get to them right away. They can have some stuff to get them by for a few hours.”
Last year, the Kennedys gave stuffed animals to the police department, as well. Their hope is to help children through the initial contact after a traumatic incident.
“We wanted to make it as positive as can be, considering the fact there may be a fire involved, and they may be losing everything,” Elaine Kennedy said.