The Chapel Hill Fire Department has raised more than $30,000 in the past two days to benefit families of firefighting victims in New York -- and the relief effort continues.
Local businesses also have organized efforts to help those in need.
The money volunteer firefighters have raised in the "Fill the Boot Campaign" will go directly to the New York Firefighter 9-11 Relief Fund. Firefighters in New York will then distribute the donations to those who lost family members in the World Trade Center collapse.
Local firefighters brought the campaign to Franklin Street on Monday, attempting to solicit donations from downtown patrons. Donations can now be given at the fire department's headquarters, located at 302 N. Columbia St.
Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones said the effort has been tremendously successful, as evidenced by the extent of community outreach.
"The most touching has been the kids," Jones said. "One little girl came in with $7 and said it was her whole allowance. Some of the University students emptied their pockets along Franklin Street, giving all they had in it."
Jones said it has been a somber week for firefighters nationwide, explaining that the attacks have hit close to home for local firefighters, who consider the profession "a giant fraternity or sorority."
"There are no secret ceremonies, but the tie and connection nationwide is stronger than any fraternity or sorority could hope for," Jones said.
The fire department is not alone in its endeavor. Several area businesses also have made significant contributions to the relief effort.
Ben and Jerry's at 102 W. Franklin St. scooped ice cream for blood donors and volunteers at South Square Mall in Durham during a recent Red Cross blood drive.
Meanwhile, Mary Anne Tickle, a waitress at McAlister's Deli at 205 E. Franklin St. will be joining the rest of the deli's wait staff in donating tips she makes between now and Saturday to the Red Cross.
"I think it's a great thing that we're giving our money away to something that really matters to people who are facing a lot of hardships," Tickle said. "(They are) having to rebuild, fix their lives, and pay for their medical bills."
Campenella Caffe and Art Gallery, located at 416 W. Franklin St., will host a benefit to raise money Sept. 23.
There will be a raffle at 4 p.m. for a painting by Campenella's owner, Lottie Campenella, and a candle lighting and prayer at 8 p.m. "I wanted to do something," Campenella said. "Instead of just asking for stuff, we thought they could get something in return, a thank you."
Campenella is among many other businesses in the area that are also giving donations to those in need, including Subway, Spanky's and Bruegger's Fresh Bagel Bakery.
Robert Humphreys, director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Commission, said he has been impressed with the fund-raising activity. "It is an indication we all want to do something as individuals in this situation,"
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