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Akron, Ohio responds to september 11 tragedy: City raises money for six new safety vehicles for New York city.

The City of Akron, Ohio, long recognized for its volunteer spirit, has completed a meaningful mission that it began following the September 11 terrorist attacks. On September 16, Akron Beacon Journal Publisher James Crutchfield met with Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic to talk over the community's many requests to the newspaper and city hall that something be done to help New York City.

In short order, they created the Greater Akron Fire Truck Fund and the contributions came flowing in to a local bank where contributions were processed.

The original goal was to raise $350,000 for the purchase of one fire truck. Within three weeks, 55,000 contributors had given $1.39 million to the effort. After all was said and done, Greater Akron had purchased a $989,000, 95-foot-ladder truck, two EMS vehicles and three SUV police cruisers for the FDNY and NYPD.

On November 27, the people of Greater Akron gathered on the downtown innerbelt to view some of the vehicles for the first time. The fire truck was there as was one of the EMS vehicles. Both were waiting to join the four other vehicles in New York City for a December 13 dedication ceremony at Ladder Co. 163/Engine Co. 325 in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens.

Mayor Plusquellic told citizens that evening, "We raised that $350,000 and then we went out and raised a million more." The largest single contribution came from the Akron Police Department. The APD raised $40,000 through the selling of patriotic T-shirts.

Akron schoolchildren broke open their piggybanks, set up lemonade stands and used lawn mowing and babysitting money to make their contributions. Senior citizens went door-to-door in their apartment complexes and neighborhoods to ask other seniors if they would take part of their social security checks and donate to the fund.

On December 13, Mayor Plusquellic and a contingent from Akron went to New York City to hand over the keys to all six vehicles in a ceremony at the 51st Street firehouse. The firehouse lost two members, Tom Gambino and Scott Larsen, on September 11 and another, John Downing, in the Father's Day factory fire in Astoria.

Mayor Plusquellic said after the ceremony, "This was an immensely gratifying experience for all of us here today, and for the community of Akron which felt such a great need to help. I am very proud of what our citizens have done here."
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Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U3OH
Date:Dec 24, 2001
Previous Article:Leaders learn to deal with the media in a crisis.
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