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Volunteer fire department gives back

Members of the Fall Branch Volunteer Fire Department were busy the evening of Dec. 6 delivering fruit baskets, household supplies and even checks to nearly 30 families who were impacted by the tornadoes that tore through Washington County during April.
Families received a box of fruit purchased from the Fall Branch Elementary School children’s fundraising project.
“We were able to help them (students) out, and we divided the fruit into boxes last night,” Operations Chief Jim Dawson said one hour prior to the deliveries.
Any leftover canned food that was donated after the storms was also included. A second box included cleaning and dishwashing supplies, and hygiene items like toothbrushes.
Families also received a check from the remaining cash donations. Those who lost everything received approximately $500, while families who experienced significant damage were given approximately $250.
Dawson said the worst damage in the fire department’s coverage area occurred in the areas of Ducktown, Cherry Hill, and Blakely Creek.
The Fall Branch Volunteer Fire Department was one of the sites designated to accept donations after the tornadoes struck. According to Dawson, support was received from individuals and businesses all over the county and state. Additional gifts were sent from surrounding states by people who learned about the tragedy.
“We want people to understand this is not fire department money,” Dawson said. “A special account was set up for this money with the whole intent of its being used for that purpose, and we felt like we didn’t need to hold it.”
Dawson said the families receiving help were not chosen at random. Representatives from a committee comprised of volunteer firefighters, impacted individuals and representatives from local churches that was set up after the storms determined who needed assistance.
“This money was given for disaster relief, and that’s what it’s going for,” Dawson said.
The fire department was also able to get some smoke detectors that were part of a grant to the state fire marshal’s office to include in the boxes.
“We thought these would be a good plus in construction and moving back in,” Dawson said.
All of Fall Branch’s 35 volunteer firefighers were involved with the project, which received a grateful response from the surprised recipients.
“We’re down on the extreme end of the county, and people often turn to us for help,” Dawson said. “We thought this was a good time of the year to do it.”