Tuesday Morning – The Check's In The Mail
Does your local VFD rely on pancake breakfasts and Bingo games to raise much-needed funds? For thousands of small, rural areas, constant fund-raising to eke out a few bucks to keep the firehouse going is a way of life that can seem defeating at times.
So imaging what it felt like for the volunteers in Dakota, Minnesota (pop. 323), the other day when a lawyer strolled into the station with a check for $140,000 and handed it over. It turned out that it was the bequest of a local citizen who had died recently and left the VFD some cash. The city officials already knew that Eleanor Sanford, who had died in September, was leaving some funds for the organization, but everyone expected it to be around $10,000. Weren't they surprised?
Shortly after Eleanor died, city clerk Lana Gerlach was told that she had left money to the department. "Neither one of us could even talk," Lana said, describing the moment that she and (Fire Chief Scott Hoeg) first saw the check.
The $140,000 is almost equal to eight years of the department’s operating budget, Lana said. The money has been put into a fund that will likely go toward purchasing a new fire truck.
If the department does buy a truck, Scott plans to put Eleanor’s name on the front. "She’d like that," Lana said, with a smile.
Winona Daily Times uncaptioned photo
The donation could be the largest amount received by any area fire department. The most the La Crescent Fire Department has received — that the fire chief or city finance director could remember — is $4,000. Lewiston’s biggest donation in recent memory was $15,000, and for the Winona Fire Department the top amount is around $5,000.
The local townsfolk are not surprised at Eleanor's action because she has long been a community philanthropist and supporter of her home town. So, congratulations to Dakota, Minnesota, for your lovely gift. I'm sure you are deserving of every penny.
Join us in getting our equipment checked out now, will you? I'm heading for the Bunn-O-Matic to get more coffee started and then we'll meet back in the day room.
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