Carson Valley firefighters collect $45,000 in one day

By Thursday afternoon, Douglas County firefighters had raised $45,000 to help families of firefighters lost in New York City's terrorist attack.

"We're literally overwhelmed," said Capt. Robert Lekumberry of the East Fork Fire and Paramedics District. "We never dreamed there would be this much of a response. We thought if we could get $10,000 over three days, we would be thrilled. We never dreamed we would have this."

East Fork firefighters spent Thursday in front of Scolari's in Gardnerville as small children brought their pennies and teens brought their summer earnings to help those they don't know in a devastated city 3,000 miles away.

"Every firefighter has a story to tell. I saw one literally crying in the street," Lekumberry said. "The support is just incredible.

"I think we've all been affected in a way we never dreamed of. Many of us never experienced a natural tragedy such as this. People are reaching out because they want to help. We're all coming together as a nation. We saw that happen on the very first day. People are going to do everything and anything to help."

Taking up the challenge, Carson City firefighters Bob Charles and Mike Santos stood in front of a fire truck at Kmart on Thursday, their boots outstretched for anyone willing to donate. A green SUV drove by and a boy dumped the change from the ash tray into Santos' boot. The same car drove by moments later with more money to give.

"It's just a little," one woman said as she put a dollar in Santos' boot.

By 3:30 p.m., Santos had emptied his boot - filled with everything from $100 bills to pennies - three times. Charles had emptied his twice.

"If we could go with our equipment and help, we would," he said. "Since we can't be there, we're here to help."

Strangers hugged them, called them unsung heroes and kept coming in droves. Rarely a person walked into the store without dropping something into one of the firefighter boots.

"I get to see a lot of good in people instead of all this negative stuff," Charles said.

Both Santos and Charles donated their time.

"This is my little way of doing something," Santos said.

Whitney Inmon, a beverage cart driver at Empire Ranch Golf Course, donated all her tips to the firefighters and said she would return with her tips for the rest of the weekend.

Both the Carson City and East Fork fire departments opened bank accounts for people to make direct donations at any Wells Fargo or Bank of America branch.

Members of the Carson City Fire Department will host a fund-raiser Sunday with proceeds to benefit New York's firefighters. Details will appear in the Saturday edition of the Nevada Appeal.

East Fork firefighters continue to collect donations in front of the Gardnerville Scolaris from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Saturday.

Carson City firefighters will be about Carson through Sunday at both Kmart, 3456 N. Carson St., Wal-Mart, 4209 S. Carson St. and at other locations through the capital.

"Just look for a fire truck or ambulance," Santos said.

On Friday and Saturday, firefighters of the Nevada Division of Forestry will be passing the boot at the Galena Raley's and the Target and Home Depot stores in South Carson City.

There will also be donation bottles at the Chevron at Mica Drive and U.S. 395.


What: New York Firefighters Relief Efforts

Stop by: Scolari's, 1329 Highway 395 in Gardnerville; Kmart, 3456 N. Carson St. and Wal-Mart, 4209 S. Carson St.

Mail donations to: Carson City Fire Department, 777 S. Stewart St. or East Fork Firefighter and Paramedic District, P.O. Box 218, Minden, Nev., 89423

Money for the East Fork relief efforts can be deposited directly at Bank of America, account No. 004964150966

Money for the Carson City firefighter relief efforts may be deposited at any Wells Fargo branch under Carson City Firefighters for FDNY, account No. 2001222991.

For information, call the Carson City Fire Department at 887-2210 or the East Fork District at 783-6440.


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