|Youths collect water for firemen|
|The Press - Features|
|Written by Kelley Lannigan|
|Thursday, 30 June 2011 09:23|
A group of contestants preparing to compete in the 2011 Miss Florida Forestry State Scholarship Pageant, which took place at Baker County Middle School last weekend, were in Macclenny during the afternoon of June 24 collecting water for a very important cause.
These young ladies, all title holders from the 2010 Miss Florida Forestry Pageant, spent several hours visiting businesses and local merchants to seek donations of bottled water for thirsty firefighters.
In one afternoon, they collected 56 cases of water.
Bebe Thrift, an experienced pageant volunteer, was hosting the girls during the afternoon before the pageant dress rehearsal when she got word that firefighters in the area were in need of bottled drinking water.
“Some people might see it as the state’s responsibility to provide water, but if the firefighters suddenly run out they need the water right then and the state can’t respond fast enough,” she said.
On learning of the water shortage, the group of pageant contestants immediately saw an opportunity to personally fight the fire in their own way.
The girls all agreed collecting water would be a way to show support for the men and women who have been risking their own safety as they worked around the clock in many parts of north Florida battling forest fires.
All water donations are being transported to the Florida Division of Forestry’s regional office in Lake City, then distributed in surrounding counties.
CVS Drugstore, Burkins Chevrolet, Thrift Log Homes and Gibson McDonald Furniture were among the businesses to receive a visit. The ladies, all wearing their tiaras, sashes and matching dark green Florida Forestry Pageant T-shirts, posed for a photo with Gibson McDonald owner Joel Barber whose store donated 28 cases of water.
“It’s a great idea to help people,” said Jillian Hodges of Baker County.
Britanny Wallace, representing Columbia County, said, “It’s been such fun helping out the firefighters like this.”
The 2010 Florida Forestry Pageant queen Amanda Finley was in the group.
“Last Saturday I drove by some of the affected areas and you can see just how much the fire has burned. All the smoke and damage — TV doesn’t do it justice. And think about all the wildlife that perished,” she said. “You can see the loggers working now just trying to do something meaningful with the trees that are left, trying to make a positive point out of it, but it’s just been so devastating.”
She recalled seeing fire trucks parked outside of people’s homes in an effort to prevent flying ash from igniting roofs.
“This is what we can do to help fight the wildfires —filling the back of our firefighter’s trucks with drinking water,” she said.
“As reigning queens, it’s really important to collect water. It’s our job to do this,” said Morgan McDuffie, also of Baker County.
The collecting effort should extend through the month of July. To donate water, please contact Sydney Ferreira at 307-8442 or San and William Beckam at 553-0117.
|Last Updated on Friday, 01 July 2011 05:23|