A quickly planned but pervasive fund-raiser for the families of New York City police officers and firefighters who died in the World Trade Center netted more than $146,000 - the largest sum anyone could remember from that kind of fund-raiser, Howard County officials say.
Within 10 days of the Sept. 11 attacks, Howard County firefighters and police officers had organized and executed a weekend-long Fill the Boot campaign and planned several other money-generating events.
"We quickly realized New York was really going to need some financial assistance," said Michael Rund, president of Howard County Professional Firefighters Association.
Rund said Volunteer Chief John Klein supported his idea for a fund-raiser, and volunteers joined with career firefighters on the project. Firefighters asked the Howard County Police Department to help with fund raising, which officers were eager to provide, police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said.
"There is a brotherhood between fire and police officers," county fire department spokesman Capt. Gary Jones said. "Both are public servants and both made rescues in New York. There was a feeling that both needed to work together on this [fund-raiser] in Howard County."
Off-duty firefighters and officers and an army of volunteers manned stations at county intersections to collect money during the weekend of Sept. 21. A group was stationed Sept. 24 outside Hecht's at The Mall in Columbia to collect donations. And two elementary schools - Pointers Run and Elkridge - sponsored boot drives.
Rund said a woman wrote a $500 check at the intersection where he was stationed that weekend. "People were very giving, very supportive," he said. "It just snowballed into something where everyone wanted to participate, which was great."
Howard County mailed two checks and letters of condolence Nov. 6 to New York City's Uniformed Firefighter's Association and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
One in the amount of $136,821.98 will help families of the 344 firefighters who died, and a $9,199.34 check will help support the families of the 23 police officers who died. The percentage of money that went to each group corresponds with the percentage of public servants who were killed.
County Executive James N. Robey has commended the fund-raising effort at several events, including the most recent police academy graduation and annual firefighter banquet.
Although the bulk of the money came from the boot drive, firefighters also donated cash they raised during a grill-out at a fall Fire Expo.
The fire department's community relations unit will continue to sell patriotic T-shirts at $12 apiece, with $8.50 going to relief efforts in New York. The rest will help cover production costs. About 100 white, short-sleeved shirts are left. Information: 410-313-7523.