Firefighters Making A Difference In People’s Lives After The Flames Are Out
I believe that giving and kindness are both contagious and prolific. And once you give back, it’s difficult to stop. To prove my point, I present the Scottsdale Firefighters Charities (SFC), a charity run by people who already give, risk and sacrifice on a daily basis.
“It’s really a fantastic extension of who our people are as firefighters. They are incredibly wonderful and generous people who take every opportunity to give back,” says Captain Sasha Weller of the Scottsdale Fire Department and president of the Scottsdale Firefighters Association (SFA).
The SFC is a subsidy of the SFA, founded in 1998 as a labor organization. Weller is one of the founding members. Originally there were around 160 charter members and today those numbers have grown to 215.
“The charity is purely volunteer run and all members are involved in one way or the other. Some are very involved, raising money for causes like muscular dystrophy, while other have an interest and find a way to help,” says Weller.
While they run some elaborate events, Weller says that the charity is grass roots. Occasionally people petition the SFC for support, but most of the time the firefighters see a cup that needs filled and figure out how to fill it. They have one gentleman who loves animals and has found different ways to help them. He runs a program to help provide pet food to people in need and has also supported other programs like Foothills Animal Rescue through fundraising efforts.
“One of our firefighters is cooking at a house in North Scottsdale for someone who won a dinner at a Boys & Girls Club event,” says Weller. “Another guy runs a charity dinner that is raising money for Partners for Piute and Scottsdale Prevention Institute. Some people volunteer for habitat humanity and Scottsdale Gateway Alliance.”
The Scottsdale fire fighters are busy bees and work hard to help the community. They’ve fund-raised for Concerned Citizens for Change, collect food for Vista del Camino’s food bank and supported Soles for Souls by collecting 10,000 shoes. Recently, they participated in a firefighters verses police officers chicken wing eating competition to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club.
In the spring, you can find them collecting donations for their Fill the Boot campaign at the Scottsdale Stadium, when the San Francisco Giants are in town for training. In the fall they are collecting for Toys for Tots, and run their own drive to raise thousands of dollars to give toys to teens, who are often except from toy drives. The SFC kicks this fundraiser off with a big pancake breakfast.
“Something charitable is going on at least every two weeks,” says Weller. “The community treats us well and we love living and working in Scottsdale.”
Weller appreciates both the firefighter support of the SFC, but also the generosity of the Scottsdale community and feels very protective of their donors.
“If you donate to the Scottsdale Fire Department, you know who you are donating to,” says Weller. “If you are getting a phone call asking for money, you are being scammed. We will not do that. We are choosy how we raise our money. We want to keep the public’s trust. There is no confusion or mistake that it’s us you are donating too. We don’t mail solicitations and if you get something in the mail asking for money, it’s a scam.”
You may, however, receive public safety information via mail, without a donation request.
To help with my agenda to prove that giving and kindness are both contagious and prolific, I asked Weller a crucial question. I asked why he thinks people who give as a profession, would spend hours volunteering and fundraising for a community they already serve. His answer is telling.
“I think it’s a part of the personality of a firefighter. A firefighter is a giver by the nature of what they have chosen as a profession. They are truly giving people who are in an incredibly rewarding job. It’s a reward to give back. I don’t know that there is a better reward than that. Those are the kind of people we like to work with and around.”
I think I prove my point. I tip my hat to Captain Sasha Weller, because although he refers to these generous firefighters as “they,” sneaky me realizes that he, too, is one of “them” who choose to give unconditionally. When next you see a firefighter out in the community with a boot in hand or collecting toys or canned foods, please help so that they can continue to help those and need and do amazing work in your community.