Published in the Current
In seven hours on Saturday, the town of Cape Elizabeth donated over $25,000 to help firefighters and rescue personnel in New York City.
Immediately upon hearing the news of Tuesday’s tragedies, the firefighters and rescue workers in Cape Elizabeth wanted to go to New York to help, said Fire Chief Philip McGouldrick.
“The frustration level was high,” he said. “They wanted to do something.”
McGouldrick checked with state emergency officials and learned that the rescue efforts had enough people. Cape’s crews are, he said, on a backup list if
they need more help down the road.
The department explored several options for fundraisers, but none of them seemed right. A bottle drive might have worked, if not for the recent Cape high school field hockey bottle effort.
Friday afternoon, McGouldrick said, Deputy Chief Peter Gleeson suggested a boot drive.
The department got approval from the town manager to do the drive, and on Saturday morning, members, the water extrication team and fire police fanned out across
town: by the town office building, at Fort Williams and near the town dump.
The major effort was in the parking lot next to the town building, McGouldrick said.
The idea was to have people pull off into the parking lot and give donations, he said. But traffic backed up, and firefighters headed out into the street with boots outstretched.
“The traffic got backed up a little but nobody seemed to mind,” McGouldrick said.
Donors, he said, were very generous.
“People would open their wallets and put all the money in,” he said. Donations included three $100 bills, and checks for $500, $300 and $100. Other donors
drove by again and again, dropping money in boots each time.
People responded well, McGouldrick said. “They were so happy that we were doing it.”
The effort was supported by several town children who set up their own fundraising sites and brought the money to the fire department, McGouldrick said.
The coins donated filled a five gallon bucket, he said.
“I’ve never seen so much change in my life,” McGouldrick said.
The coins have gone to be counted and are not included in the $25,000 total, McGouldrick said. The total includes only bills and checks.
The department is continuing to accept donations, but will not be soliciting on the town’s streets.
“The community gave and gave generously,” McGouldrick said.