Columbus Fire and Rescue is doing its part to give back to the community this Christmas season.
Battalion Chief Martin Andrews took time out on Friday to talk about a new initiative called CFR Gives. Through the program, the fire department raises money to give to those in need to help make their holiday season better.
“(Fire Chief Ken Moore) and his staff normally give out presents to the crew and firefighters and do a big Christmas meal,” Andrews said, noting it normally costs around $900 to host the party.
“What we’re doing this year is instead of the chief giving the gifts, we are giving others gifts,” he continued. “We’re pooling all the money and came up with CFR Gives — Columbus Fire and Rescue Gives. The Columbus Police Department has the toy drive, so we wanted to come up with something.”
It started with a department raffle drawing. There were 500 raffle tickets available. The winning ticket gives a firefighter a brand new rifle. Once the firefighters pull the tickets, it would say how much they had to donate to CFR Gives. The donation amounts of each ticket ranged from $0.01 to $5.
“With that money and the money the chief gave, we raised $2,412,” Andrews said. “We took that money raised and divided among 18 different engine companies.”
The engine companies are the groups of firefighters assigned to each fire truck during a shift. The crew is divided into three 24-hour shifts, and there are six trucks. According to Andrews, the average is about three firefighters per company.
To what cause each company distributed their share was up to them, Andrews said. Some donated to needy families; others gave to pharmacies to help struggling people pay for medication.
“The pharmacies would know who was not able to pay for their medicine all the time, and they know they have Columbus Gives to help pay for that medicine,” Andrews said.
Other companies gave to local residents who were victims of recent home fires. One of them is the Roberts family on Fourth Street South, Andrews said.
A fire broke out at the residence, the home of Maureen Roberts, on the morning of Nov. 29. The family escaped, but two were transported for treatment to injuries. Roberts’ mother, 93-year-old Harriett Hood, was trapped inside when the fire took place, and firefighters rescued her from the burning house. The house received around $15,000 worth of damage.
The CFR Gives event will be annual, Andrews said. Once this year’s event ends, Andrews said the department will focus on making next year’s bigger and better.
“We plan on stepping it up a lot more, helping more families and raising more money to give out,” he said.