Showing posts with label Honorary Junior Firefighter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Honorary Junior Firefighter. Show all posts

Friday, November 19, 2010

5 Year Old Donates Life Savings To Fire Department

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Financial support to help rebuild the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department has poured in from across West Virginia and the country, but none touched members of the department more than the donation of one boy's savings.

On Saturday, Joshua Shaffer, 5, wearing a firefighter's hat and jacket -- his Halloween costume -- donated $45.85 from his plastic piggy bank.

The money, made up of change, was his life savings.

The department lost its main station, three trucks and nearly all of its equipment in an electrical fire on Oct. 1.

Shaffer's donation epitomizes the support from the community, especially the children, said Tom Miller, secretary of the 40-member department's board of directors.

Elementary, middle and high school students from across Kanawha County and the state have raised more than $5,000 through fundraisers, Miller said.

"There are just no words to describe it," Miller said.

J.T. Shaffer, Joshua's father, said Saturday his son decided to donate his savings after watching a YouTube video of the fire that destroyed the main station.

"They can't do it all by themselves," Joshua Shaffer said Saturday, after presenting the jar of coins to members of the fire department at Sissonville High School.

In honor of the donation, members of the VFD presented Joshua with a certificate, naming him an honorary junior firefighter.

He also shook each firefighter's hand before getting the chance to climb into the unit's fire truck and push a few buttons.

Joshua said Saturday he's already planning to begin saving money for "Big Josh," a fire truck the department plans to purchase and name after him.

The Sissonville VFD is operating out of the garage of Charleston Auto, just down the road from the burned-out station. The department runs three fire stations to cover an area of about 125 square miles.

Even after the loss of their main station, members of the volunteer department have not missed a single call, Miller said.

The fire destroyed nearly $2 million in property, equipment and vehicles, he said. The department's insurance will cover damage to the trucks and building, which totals about $1 million.

Insurance coverage for the lost equipment has not been settled.

Miller estimates that the department needs to raise an additional $350,000 to completely rebuild and re-establish itself.

The outpouring of support has been "overwhelming," Miller said.

In just two months, the department has raised about $100,000 through donations, fundraisers, and corporate and state pledges, he said.

Offers of help also have come from outside West Virginia. Fire departments from as far away as California, Alaska and British Columbia have donated equipment and supplies.

The department must have a plan to rebuild and re-establish itself by May, Miller said.

Without a plan, insurance policies of the people who live within the department's district could be affected, because the unit is operating out of a temporary location, he said.

The department is working on a plan, Miller said, "but "I have no idea where, or when we'll build. There are still a lot of questions that have to be answered yet."

Members of the Sissonville VFD will host a holiday family-portrait event from noon to 8 p.m. today at Sissonville High School. Portraits cost $10.

Additionally, the department is sponsoring a Dec. 18 holiday bus trip to Elkins. Tickets are $65 and include dinner, entrance to a Broadway-style show, time to shop in the area and transportation.

To book a ticket for the holiday trip, call the fire department at 304-984-0674.