By Umut Newbury
Originally published Sunday, September 30, 2001
From T-shirt sales to car washes, Wise Countians’ creativity and volunteerism paid off in the last two weeks – amounting to more than $50,000 in donations for the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
Decatur’s largest fund-raiser took place Sept. 20 and 21 at the Decatur Civic Center, when the city sponsored a cash donation drop off and bake sale. Donated baked goods and cash donations raised a total of $11,661 for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
The week before, the Decatur Showtime girls softball team was among the first to organize a fund-raising effort by distributing unity ribbons in the parking lots of Wal-Mart and Tractor Supply Sept. 15.
“It just started with the girls on the team and then all their friends showed up and it all expanded really quick,” said Russell Reynolds, the team’s coach. “I thought they did a good job.”
The softball team raised more than $5,000 and gave it to the Boeing headquarters in Dallas, which matched their donations to a sum of $9,000.
Also during the first week of the attacks, a benefit car wash at the Wal-Mart parking lot raised $1,300 for the American Red Cross.
“We probably had about a dozen volunteers who worked 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day,” said Cher Jordan, organizer.
At Kenny Renshaw Park in Decatur, eight teams competed in a coed softball tournament Sept. 22 for the disaster relief cause. The teams paid $200 each to participate and the event raised more than $4,000, combined with patriotic T-shirt sales.
The shirts were also on sale Friday at the First National Bank of Texas, downtown Decatur branch. The totals on the donations are yet to be released.
“We are still selling, so we won’t have the totals until next week,” said Julie Perkins, organizer. “We have a company matching us 3-1, so hopefully we will have a large sum.”
Perkins said the local effort will continue next week in Decatur with “America United” T-shirts for sale at Curves for Women, located at 301 S. Main in Decatur. All proceeds will go to the Uniformed Firefighters Association Children and Widows Fund of New York City.
Perhaps the largest local fund-raising effort took place in Bridgeport last week when the Bridgeport, Runaway Bay and Chico chambers of commerce banded together to hold a drive-through donation drive for the American Red Cross.
The event, which raised more than $23,000, was held Sept. 25 at the corner of 9th Street and U.S. 380 in Bridgeport and on the Chico Square. Businesses brought individual employee contributions and several individuals donated large amounts.
“We thought it was going to be a change collecting drive,” said Candi Keener, organizer. “We had several $100 and $500 donations. One couple gave us their tax refund check.”
The volunteers gave American flag stickers to donors for their contribution.
“We were swamped all day,” Keener said. “So many businesses came in and bought T-shirts for employees, we can’t even count.”
Even the schools felt the need to do their part in assisting the victims. The Boyd Intermediate School raised $3,000 at a fund-raiser Sept. 22. The event included a large indoor garage sale, a bake sale, a cake walk, a car wash, a coats for kids sale and moon walk.
In Rhome, residents took cash donations to Wells Fargo Bank, where a Red Cross Disaster Relief account was established to help with the recovery.
The account was initially opened with $1 million from the corporate office and could be accessed at all the branches of the bank, including Boyd. Bank administrators said several south Wise Countians made large donations in the last two weeks, but a local count was not possible since the account is nationwide.
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