Thursday, October 27, 2016

Small Town America ... You Make Me Proud!!

It's no secret that I'm not fond of the area I live in.  Central California has become a place everyone drives through to get someplace else.  I don't live in Merced ... I drive through it or even around it if I can.  In spite of Taco Bell being the best restaurant, I have to say the residents actually made me proud yesterday.

At Elks Bingo Tuesday night, we got a call that the Fire Department was working on their biggest charity the next morning and needed help with counting money.  That's what I do, so I volunteered.  I arrived at the appointed 7:00 am to find the Coordinator alone except for four hunky Firemen.  I think I'm going to LIKE this job.
It's Fill The Boot for MDA.  They have a camp in the mountains near here where MDA kids get to stay for a week FREE every summer.  They can swim in the pool (they have a lift that allows them access),  go fishing and camp out, but they need funds to pay for required doctors and nurses to be on site, not to mention all the food and supplies.
As the sixteen firemen came in, I set them up with a T-shirt, a boot, a sign to wave to be sure they were noticed, coffee and donuts.  Believe it or not, they ALL declined the donuts.  These guys are hunks and they want to stay that way.  I've never seen so many muscles in one place!!  This must be what heaven is like!!
As the guys hit the streets, we had to warn them about the local ordinance that says NO panhandling. It really doesn't work however, because everywhere you go in this town there's someone trying to hit you up.  Unfortunately, they forgot to allow for this event once a year.  The trick was to stay OFF the median.  It's okay to walk in the street and get run over, but DON'T stand on the concrete median.  
As the boots were filled, the Coordinator or whoever we could grab, went around with the blue bucket and collected the cash.  That's where my job began.
Even Sparky showed up, in spite of the 85 degree heat, to greet kids that stopped in and give them a tour of the Fire Truck.  Firemen hats were passed out along with stickers, which thrilled the kids.
Once we had a good start on the collecting, I was locked in this trailer to begin the count.  Imagine a five gallon bucket stuffed full of green stuff, then dumped on a table.  It was crazy!!  One of my Elks helpers finally showed up around 9:30.  We counted continuously until 1:30.
Funny how we couldn't move the pot on the stove.  Actually, this is their earthquake safety trailer.  We worked around it however and double counted every stack before coming to the conclusion that the boys collected an amazing $12,100 in six hours.  Can you believe it?  The goal was $7,500.  To top that off, Kohls sent five employees (none over 18 years old mind you) to work for three hours, for which Kohls paid them.  Then Kohls wrote US a check for $1,500.  Nice!!

A grand total of $13,600 was collected, plus I'm sure another couple hundred in change.  The firemen broke all their previous records for collections by several thousand dollars.  They were literally jumping in the air.  I think it's a sign of the times, with all the crap that's going on, that people want to show their appreciation for the Fire Department.  Five separate people even donated $100 bills.  Amazing, right??
So here's the picture I'm leaving you with.  We awarded him the "cutest butt" trophy.  I'm not kidding, these guys should do a calendar, dressed just like this!!  What a great group of happy men just doing their part for the MDA Camp.
FYI ... in case you ever run this type of fundraiser.  There's no firemen that wear size 1X or 2X shirts, so don't get those.  Provide mostly Medium and Large ... trust me on this one ... they REALLY like to show off their muscles ... and a tight medium T-Shirt does that right nicely!!

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