Firefighters head to NY with money for victims
GIVING SUPPORT Tommy Little, owner of Judge Little Company Inc., gives $500 to Meridian Fire Chief Bunky Partridge. Partridge will travel with firefighters on Friday to New York to give more than $14,000 in donations to the families of firefighters killed in the line of duty. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Oct. 30, 2001
Firefighters with the Meridian Fire Department will offer support to New York on Friday when they travel to Ground Zero with $14,000 collected for victims of the terrorist attacks.
Two days after the Sept. 11 attack on New York and Washington, Meridian firefighters gathered in prayer at First Baptist Church. After leaving the service, they united again, along with members of Lauderdale County's volunteer fire departments, to raise money for the families of firefighters killed in the line of duty.
Putting together a barbecue on a moment's notice, the firefighters cooked and sold barbecue plates. They also collected private donations from people, businesses and churches and sold T-shirts bearing the words "In God We Trust."
The effort pulled area firefighters together like never before. Meridian firefighters found themselves alongside their volunteer "brothers" for a first time in the history of their departments. And the firefighters union, Local 52, worked with city officials on a common goal and without disagreement.
Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith was instrumental in acquiring Amtrak tickets for the firefighters' trip to New York. Area schools also helped, by donating a huge flag made from impressions of their hands and making hundreds of American flags to distribute to the families of fallen firefighters.
The firefighters themselves will pay for their own accommodations while in New York.
Partridge said local businesses pitched in: McDonald's and the new Wal-Mart SuperCenter contributed $870, Judge Little Co. gave $500, the Riley Foundation donated $5,000 and Atlas Roofing contributed $3,500.
Partridge said his department will transport all gifts from the community. Amtrak has offered to send a additional car, if need, to accommodate extra gifts, he said.
The firefighters are scheduled to leave Meridian at 11 a.m. on Friday. Anyone wanting to make donations can contact Partridge at 485-1821.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.