ABILENE, Texas - Wildfire season is well underway and many Big Country volunteer fire departments need assistance to ensure they have the resources they need to battle each blaze and keep our communities safe.
KTXS is partnering with the Community Foundation of Abilene and First Financial Bank to air a fundraising telethon – Helping the Heroes – after a shortened KTXS News at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
You can pledge during the telethon by calling KTXS at (325) 677-2281 or any time by clicking on this WEBSITE.
"We're doing the best we can and any little bit of assistance will help," said Taylor County Sheriff and View VFD Fire Chief Ricky Bishop. "Even if it's just $5, you know. If everybody in one area gave – if every household gave $5 every month – that's going to be a big help."
The Camp Barkeley Fire, which burned hundreds of acres in central Taylor County, was just one of the recent fires that has taken a toll on volunteer firefighters' equipment and resources. With the ever present West Texas drought and high winds, it is clear the fire dangers will not go away anytime soon.
Though many volunteer firefighters receive grants, Bishop said many of the grants his volunteer firefighters receive require a co-pay. Many of the volunteers pay out of their own pockets to make up for the needs a grant will not fully cover.
Bishop and his department represent just one of more than 70 volunteer fire departments working to protect communities within the KTXS viewing area. The telethon will benefit volunteer fire departments in Fisher, Jones, Shackelford, Nolan, Taylor, Callahan, Eastland, Runnels, Coleman and Brown counties.
First Financial Bank will handle the monetary donations and the Community Foundation of Abilene will maximize the donation benefits.
"We're enabling people to make donations that are charitable," said CFA President and CEO Katie Alford. "They'll come through the Community Foundation and then we'll make those grants out to the volunteer fire departments. So this is a great partnership because we can provide the tax benefit but also the charitable benefit."
Alford said the CFA grant board will review all grant applications to ensure the money is not abused.
After the telethon, the partnership will continue with educational campaigns.
"There's still people out in the county that have moved from town that think the Abilene fire department, police department, metro care – ‘they're coming if I need them' – well if you're outside the city limits, that's not the case," Bishop said. "It's the volunteer fire department, it's the volunteer EMS service and you've got the sheriff's office coming to you. And any of them -- it's going to take time to get wherever you're at depending on where they're coming from -- and we just need to educate people a little bit more and hopefully this is going to help a bit."
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