You will find lots of recent mentions of Jason Pickering when you Google the name. He has also been making TV newscasts in the Chicago area and beyond. What people are finding so interesting is that Pickering has taken to the streets to feed his wife and four kids. While there are lots of people out there who panhandle to make ends meet, not many of them do it in a firefighter’s helmet and Nomex hood. Pickering was recently laid-off from the Gary Fire Department in Indiana where the firefighter/paramedic was a ten-year veteran. Here are excerpts from WGN-TV’s story by Gaynor Hall:
“We took an oath to save people’s lives, and the city just threw us to the curb,” said Pickering.
So, he’s been spending his time on the curb, dressed in gear, carrying a sign, and collecting cash in a fireman’s boot. People have given generously. He has raised $475 since Sunday.
His wife is a stay-at-home mom. The couple has 4 children. By the end of January, they will lose their health insurance, and Pickering says his $350 weekly unemployment check won’t stretch very far.
“I’m just out here to let everyone know, hey, we want to come back to work,” said Pickering. “We want to help save people’s lives. We don’t have that opportunity now.”
The city has applied for a federal grant to help bring back the laid-off firefighters. In the meantime, Pickering says he is frantically searching for a job.