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Valley opens pocketbooks, pours out hearts for relief efforts, victims' families

September 21, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

Local organizations are using various methods to raise money for the national relief effort to aid the victims and those involved in the rescues after the terrorist attacks on the East Coast last week.

For emergency response services in the Imperial Valley, aiding the families of fire and police personnel who died in the terrorist attacks is their way of extending their prayers.

Calexico Fire Department Capt. Ernesto Avila said, "We're trying to get donations from local businesses willing to help us. All the money we gather will be sent to New York with all our prayers going to the families, relatives and friends of all the victims.

"We're going to do our best for God and country," he added.

The Calexico Firefighters Association will be selling carne asada plates from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the fire station at 430 E. 5th St. The plates will be $6 each.

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Calexico fire Engineer Arnold Rivera said, "I think it's our duty to help fellow firefighters and the victims.

"To stand away from that would be against everything we believe in," he said.

The Brawley firefighters' union is sending $200 to the New York City firefighters' association.

Brawley fire Capt. Jesse Zendejas said, "Being so small, we should at least give something."

The El Centro Fire Department, along with the California Highway Patrol El Centro office, U.S. Border Patrol and Imperial County Sheriff's Office, have organized a fund raiser for Saturday.

Those agencies, along with other law enforcement and fire departments in the Valley, will be waiting tables from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Carrows Restaurant, 1002 N. Imperial Ave. in El Centro. Donations for the aid effort will be accepted.

Fire, law enforcement and tactical vehicles will be displayed in the Carrows parking lot, and the American Red Cross "bloodmobile" will be accepting blood donations there.

However, not all the fund-raising is being done by fire or police departments.

In Westmorland, Family 4-H, Star Route 4-H and Westmorland 4-H have organized a prayer vigil for 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the park behind Westmorland City Hall.

Prayer, singing, candle-lighting and a moment of silence will be staged in honor of the victims and survivors of the attacks. Canisters have been placed all over Westmorland to raise funds for the national disaster relief fund through the American Red Cross. The canisters also will be placed at the prayer vigil.

The El Centro Rotary Club collected $4,237 from members at its Sept. 13 meeting. The money will go to the El Centro Rotary Foundation to be forwarded to yet-to-be-decided organizations that will be helping with the relief effort.

Local stores are joining the relief effort, too.

Sears is taking donations for the American Red Cross.

"Last week between associates and customer donations we probably donated about $1,400," said Bob Diaz, store manager for Sears in El Centro.

Sears has donated $1 million as a corporation to the cause. Sears also donated all of the generators in its distribution centers on the East Coast for relief workers. The donations will be collected for another week or so. The bloodmobile will be at Sears from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 4.

The Wal-Mart companies have donated blankets, clothing, medical supplies, water, flashlights, ventilator masks and large adjustable wrenches to rescue workers in New York City. Donations are being accepted at all Wal-Mart stores.

The Costco store in El Centro is collecting donations for the relief effort.

"In two days we raised $1,400," said Marina Cruz, Costco marketing manager.

"We're going to continue until we meet our goal," she said.

Donations are being taken at the registers.

These are only a few organizations, clubs and stores collaborating in the national relief effort.

Staff Writer Stefanie Greenberg contributed to the story.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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