Local support abounds for victims' families

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Since the terrorism of Sept. 11, Juneau has been busy working to do good and express sympathy for victims' families and survivors.

On Friday of the first week, a nondenominational service at Centennial Hall raised $20,000. Since then, fifth-graders collected money. Adults collected aluminum cans.

Prayers have been sent. E-mails and letters of condolence have been written. A spaghetti feed was held. Quilters have stitched up red, white and blue blocks galore, and restaurants have donated revenues.

Two days after the terrorist attacks, on Sept. 13, the United Way of Southeast Alaska set up a table at the Nugget Mall to allow people to send a card of sympathy.

"We had not intended on collecting money - just giving them the opportunity to send a card," said United Way Executive Director Marsha Riley. "But people were very, very generous."

About 500 messages were collected as well as cash and checks totaling $535.55.

Miller House, a long-term residential treatment center for youth ages 2 to 19 with emotional and behavioral disorders, raised about $350, Riley said.

"Those kids are troubled and have a lot of problems but they were able to do something nice for someone else," she said.

On Oct. 6, Miller House held a car wash and bake sale, said Chuck Bennett, executive director of Juneau Youth Services.

"We had about 15 kids participate," he said. "What was really great was that it was the kids' idea after they heard stuff on the radio and talked to the community; they wanted to help."

Four fifth-grade classes at Harborview Elementary School collected loose change, said Principal Bob Dye. The collection grew out of teachers' discussions with their students, who wanted to help families of victims.

"Kids took money jars out to different places in the community, and then we had an assembly," Dye said. They raised $931.75. "The comment that sticks out in my mind is that 'it's nice for kids to have an opportunity to provide for those in need.' "

"Red" Geil, an employee of Waste Management, came up with the notion to donate proceeds from recycling beer and soda cans in November and December to the American Red Cross for Sept. 11 relief. Waste Management expects to donate at least $1,000.

The Adventure Club, a social group of five families who play on the same softball team, held a spaghetti feed Oct. 7 at Chapel by the Lake. Grocery stores donated ingredients. The Broiler restaurant and Rick's Cafe helped out. Grandma's Featherbed bed-and-breakfast donated some desserts, and Sign-Pro made banners, said organizer Robin Dale.

Mark and Robin Dale, Phil and Kymm Benson, Mike and Chrisanna Lesmann, Dusty and Tony Price, and Nancy Woizeschke and Brian Prellwitz were the five organizing couples.

"Everybody wanted to do something to help out after Sept. 11," Dale said. "This was our way of dealing with (the terrorism). We raised $4,049.25 and handed it over to the United Way. We had a really good turn-out, and it was fun."

Kerriann Powers, 15, a 10th-grader at Juneau-Douglas High School, is making beaded flag pins to raise funds for the families of 15 of the New York firefighters who died Sept. 11. Because the Powers family visited the Eighth Avenue fire station in August, she felt especially close to those victims.

"We have made about 500 pins and raised close to $6,000," Powers said Monday. "We have been getting a lot of feedback that everybody likes them."

The pins are available at Susan's Hallmark.

Rescue dogs that searched the rubble weren't forgotten. Chava Lee, executive director of the Gastineau Humane Society, solicited funds for the Rescue Dog Association, headquartered in New Jersey.

"We picked that organization because its dogs are handled by volunteers and they had to raise all their funds privately," Lee said. Northern Lights Candle Co. helped and nearly $600 was raised.

Canton House held a fund-raising dinner on Oct. 28.

"It was a blast," said Craig Brown, a Juneau volunteer firefighter who helped out at Canton House. "We had a great time. It was real busy and just a great thing that Canton did."

Brown was joined by other members of Capital City Fire and Rescue including Max Mielke, volunteer chief at the Glacier Station, Brad Waldron, Mark Fuette, Steve Byers, Jim Canary and Chuck Gasparek.

"We bussed tables, served water, coffee and juice," Mielke said.

Heather Howard, manager of Canton House, came up with the idea of the benefit dinner because she felt it would make giving simpler for the public.

"We just felt like it would be easier for a business to pull the community together than for an individual to do it. People could go out, have a good time, and still participate," she said.

The Canton House fund-raiser netted $8,200.

The next weekend, Nov. 4, some of the same fire personnel, joined by co-workers Mike Tagaban and Cheryl Tatum, worked from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Jovany's Restaurant, raising exactly $2,000, Mielke said.

"The mood was awesome," Mielke said. "People were real ecstatic. It was real fun for us because we got to talk to everybody. And it was pretty busy sometimes; we were hopping."

Jovany's owner, Nita Soriano, said all of the $2,000 went to the firefighters' fund.

Auke Bay Elementary School created a colorful banner with handprints of all students and staff to show their sympathy for the roughly 5,000 people who are believed to have died at the World Trade Center and their support for the survivors. Teachers Jennifer Challen and Joanne Jones coordinated the effort.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.

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