Communities display compassion, charity
By Neil G. Greene, Daily Journal Reporter
In an attempt to help their comrades and countrymen back east, Peninsula residents and local emergency services are raising money for disaster relief charities. In San Mateo, Burlingame and Millbrae, residents have exhibited unprecedented financial generosity by donating large amounts of money to fire and police department fund-raisers, while also holding their own events.
On Tuesday, San Mateo Fire Chief Willie McDonald received an envelope with a check from Amici's East Coast Pizzeria located on Third Street.
"When I opened up the envelope I thought perhaps they made a mistake with the number of zeros," said McDonald, responding to the $10,000 donation mailed to his office.
Amici co-owner Peter Cooperstein said he and his wife, along with their partner Mike Forter, were inspired by their employees who had begun to donate their tips to charity. Some customers were so touched by the employees generosity they handed employees $100 bills.
"I was hesitant to ask the employees to do anything. It's one thing for an owner [to make a donation], but the employees depend on the money to make ends meet," said Cooperstein.
The San Mateo Fire Department offered to pick up the check from Amici's with sirens and flags waving, but Cooperstein said he didn't donate the money for attention. He did say, however, that he wouldn't mind it inspired others to give.
"It would be great if it did [inspire]. I think it was more of a low-key thing. Everybody's level of generosity in the country has been enormous, and everyone is doing what they can to help," said Cooperstein.
Last weekend the San Mateo Fire Department held three fund-raising events to help raise money for the New York Assistance Fund. The fund-raiser also gave citizens the opportunity to ask questions about the New York relief effort
and how local departments are preparing for a potential disaster in California.
The three-day event raised over $30,000 - $9,000, $12,000, and $7,500 respectively over the course of the weekend. Other miscellaneous donations from citizens who couldn't make it to the event are continuing to trickle in, according to McDonald.
In Millbrae an anonymous donor collected over $16,000, and another three individuals donated $175. At the City Council meeting Tuesday, City Clerk Cheryl Mitchell Wade said all donated money would be sent to the 911 Disaster Relief Fund - the council unanimously voted to send the funds east.
And while the city of Millbrae is not accepting donations, city staff said if people send donations they will forward the money to the appropriate charity, but they encourage people to make their donations directly to the charity of their choice.
Millbrae resident Peter Grossman will be holding a Lego fund raiser this weekend, in which children will construct a Statue of Liberty from Legos. Donors can buy a Lego brick for $1, 10 bricks for $10, or make a donation of any denomination they choose.
A Lego donation lets kids get involved by using their creativity by building the Statue of Liberty and offering them a donation price they can afford. All proceeds will be sent to the 911 Disaster relief fund as well.
The Lego Statue of Liberty will have more than 2,800 pieces, making it likely that the fund-raiser will pull in more than $3,000.
Once complete, Grossman said he hopes to send the Lego statue to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, or the Port Authority. There will also be a cloth for people to sign, which he will send along with the statue.
The event will be held on both Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot in front of Leonardo's Deli Cafe at 540 Broadway - across the street form the Millbrae post office. For more information call 697-2333.
The Burlingame Fire and Police departments, along with the Lions Club, will be holding a pancake breakfast Saturday from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. at Fire Station 34 at 799 California St. All proceeds form the event will go to the New York Police and Firefighter Disaster Relief fund.
"All the money we get, 100 percent, will go to the police and fire benevolence funds, in support of the families that lost either police or fire personnel in New York," said Jack Van Etten, Burlingame police commander and Lions Club president.
The Lions Club has already donated $1,000 to the breakfast.
The event is for the whole family, and organizers say they're keeping the entrance price open. The event will have pancakes, ham, fresh fruit and lots of fun.
"The breakfast contribution will aid people on the East Coast, and that itself is worth the price of admission - and you get breakfast on top of it," said Van Etten. "It's just a small gesture on the part of public safety in Burlingame, and a way we can create support."
Cars will get clean and money will roll east, after Bayside Middle School holds its community car wash this weekend. All proceeds from the Saturday event, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will go to the American Red Cross. The event will be held at the Bayside Middle School located at 2025 Kehoe Ave.
"I'm spearheading this, I have a passion for this. It's something I need to do to bring the community together," said Bayside Middle School teacher and car wash organizer Judith Ross.
Sixty students are expected to turn out along with their parents and teachers. The yearbook photographer and videographer will be there to
document this student-run event.
Ross has already received $400, and she hopes the event will raise a substantially higher amount of money - this is Ross' attempt to assist in whatever way she can.
"I'd love to be helping in New York or D.C.," said Ross, "but I need do my part here in San Mateo."