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Melissa Hipolit surprises first responders on Thanksgiving: ‘These are my heroes’

RICHMOND, Va. -- For a special Thanksgiving edition of CBS6 gives, reporter Melissa Hipolit surprised some folks having to work on Thanksgiving.

First, she visited Richmond Fire Station 22, where the firefighters there also work on the city's Hazmat team

Eight firefighters were there working a 24 shift responding to calls and cooking a Thanksgiving meal for themselves when CBS 6 arrived.

Melissa first handed them some bags of Starbucks coffee, explaining that she had heard coffee is something they go through quite a lot of at the fire station, and it's their most expensive supply.

"Twenty-four hour shifts, we need coffee," one firefighter said.

She then gave them each VISA gift cards to buy something special for themselves or someone else.

"Thank you guys, thank you so much, thank you CBS 6 and crew," the firefighters said to a round of applause.

One firefighter said she would be using it as soon as she got off work to take advantage of black Friday deals.

"I'm already here for today so tomorrow is shopping."

Everyone expressed gratitude for the gesture.

"Very surprised. We had no idea this was going to happen."

While Melissa was there, a member of the community showed up with a pie for the crew, explaining that she watched them save someone's life during a medical emergency.

"I know there are hundreds of firemen throughout the United States, but these are my heroes."

After a round of hugs, that included hugs with Melissa's photojournalist for the day, Chris Jenkins, Melissa and Chris took off their next Thanksgiving destination: the Henrico 911 Dispatch Center.

Melissa visited with 16 different 911 dispatchers answering emergency calls on the holiday, and gave them each a gift card to Starbucks Coffee.

"That was really kind of you, thank you so much."

The dispatchers said the majority of emergency calls so far this Thanksgiving revolved around domestic issues.

"Basically just disorderlies and domestics."

Many said they had worked on Thanksgiving for several years, and they did not mind at all.

"I've been doing this for almost 13 years so for me I was in the military before that so to me it's just part of life giving back my family understands."

They all expressed appreciation for CBS 6 recognizing their efforts helping save lives on Thanksgiving Day.

"We really appreciate you coming, I'm a recruiter for the 911 dispatch center so it really means a lot to have you guys up here showing us how much you appreciate us."

Every day in December, a CBS 6 team member will surprise someone in the community with a random act of kindness during the CBS 6 Month of Giving. All we ask is that the recipients pay it forward one day.

Watch for CBS 6 Gives Mondays on CBS 6 News at 11 p.m.

Watch for CBS 6 Gives Mondays on CBS 6 News at 11 p.m.