Mayor Chris Beutler today urged the public to support the efforts of local firefighters to raise funds for the fire relief efforts of the Cornhusker Regional Chapter of the American Red Cross. A chili feed and silent auction will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, February 25 at the Firefighters Reception Hall, 241 Victory Lane. Sponsors include the Lincoln Firefighters Association, the Lincoln Firefighters Benefit Association, Lincoln Fire and Rescue and rural fire departments in Lancaster County.
"When fire strikes a Lincoln area family, the Red Cross is there to provide food, shelter, clothing and emotional support at no cost," said Beutler. "You cannot put a price on the important services they provide to families during these difficult times, but the funds to support this assistance are running short. I urge the community to support this important fund-raiser so the Red Cross can continue to serve fire victims in our community."
Randy Jones, CEO of the local Red Cross chapter, said his agency has responded to 63 residential fires since July 1, the beginning of its fiscal year. That compares to 51 fires in the previous 12 months (July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010). In its 2009-2010 fiscal year, the Red Cross exceeded its $22,000 fire response budget by $6,000.
"In the last seven months, we've helped 166 people, including 58 children," Jones said. "March is typically our busiest time of the year for fire assistance, and we expect the need to exceed our resources. I appreciate the help of our firefighters in helping to raise the funds for this important service."
"We see the value of the Red Cross assistance first-hand, and we don't want any family to face this situation alone," said Dave Engler, President of the Lincoln Firefighters Association. "Like firefighters, these Red Cross volunteers are on call 24 hours a day, every day, and they deserve our support."
Based on the family's needs, the Red Cross issues debit cards to fire victims for necessities; provides shelter at local motels; and helps to replace prescriptions and other medical needs. The agency also may help develop a recovery plan and makes licensed mental health professionals available to family members.
The Cornhusker Chapter serves Lancaster, Fillmore, Otoe, Saline, Seward, Thayer and York counties. About 97 percent of the chapter's workforce is made up of volunteers, and more are needed to train for fire and disaster response. For more information on the local Red Cross chapter and to make a donation, call 441-6392 or visit cornhuskerredcross.org. Donations also can be sent to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 83267, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501.
The chili feed is $10 for adults and $5 for children age 12 and under. Those wanting to donate items for the silent auction can contact Todd Dondlinger at 402-314-0521.