MORTON — Morton-Rutledge Fire Capt. Michael Malinowski dedicated his life to selflessly serving his community until his untimely death at age 40 earlier this month.
This holiday season, the community is saying thank you.
His survivors were the gracious recipients of piles of presents, gift cards and money that were raised to help the family of six that unexpectedly lost its patriarch. Malinowski’s wife, Melissa, and five children - Harper, Cooper, Matt, Michael and Bailey - were greeted with a line of fire trucks and emergency personnel who lined up to bring in the train of presents and gifts to the family at their Morton home Monday night.
Melissa Malinowski said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community.
“I knew the firehouse and the police really support us, but I just didn’t expect this much that it has been so overwhelming,” she said. “We don’t know what to do with all of the attention, the love. We can’t thank everybody enough.”
The FOP Lodge 27 and IBEW 654 coordinated the fundraising efforts and were lucky enough to get Santa Claus to help with this extra special event before his Christmas Eve deliveries. Part of the donations included a check for $3,000 and $1,000 in gift cards to buy food.
“At least the kids will have a Christmas. It’s only been a few weeks and they’re having a rough time, but this will make it a little easier for them,” said Melissa. “We appreciate everybody.”
Malinowski was a firefighter in Gloucester City, N.J., before he started his volunteer career with Morton-Rutledge Fire Co. five years ago. According to fire company President Jack Breslin, Malinowski started as a fireman before climbing the ranks to captain last year.
On Dec. 2 Malinowski responded to an emergency event in Nether Providence and the next day he was transported to a local hospital for illness. He died shortly thereafter, reportedly from a heart attack. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the state flag at all public facilities in Delaware County to fly at half-staff for two days, including Dec. 14 for Malinowski’s funeral.
On Monday night, state Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-165 of Springfield, represented Melissa with a special citation from the state House of Representatives in honor of her husband. O’Mara also said a bridge on Morton Avenue passing over Stony Creek will be named for him.
Breslin said Malinowski was a “tremendous guy, great spirit” who was ready to tackle any job, big or small, for the company.
“Mike was a leader in how to do things,” he said. “Losing Mike, it’s all made us wake up and pull together a little bit closer and everybody stepping up a little bit more to honor Mike for what he did for us.”
Melissa Malinowski said her husband loved the firehouse and helping people. She said he was loved and she has been overwhelmed by the by the response she has received following his untimely death.
“From the funeral to all of this it has been amazing and beyond anything that I could imagine that anyone has done for us. I’m very proud. It doesn’t bring him back, but the kids have everything: his hat, his award to remember him.
“The firehouse won’t leave us stranded.”
The firehouse, certainly, won’t forget the Malinowski family.
“These little items go a long way to try to make things a little bit better,” said Breslin. “It’s going to take time but they’re going to be a resilient family. They have the backing of the fire company and the community. It’s a wonderful thing to see.”
A collection fund is being undertaken by the fire company to support the Malinowski family. Any monetary donations may be sent to the Morton-Rutledge Fire Co. at 38 Alfa Terrace, Morton, PA 19070 in the name of the Malinowski children. For any questions regarding donation please call the fire company at 610-543-9721.