Leaf River Fire Department Heads To New Orleans

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

If you thought those were Hurricane Katrina relief totals for a huge municipality you'd be wrong. Instead a small Ogle County town is taking their massively successful relief effort down south.

Volunteer Kathy Rose "Our little town can show people that we can do things and get them done."

Take a look at their faces. These are the men and women of Leaf River's Fire department in their quaint community these volunteers did something remarkable.

Leaf River Fire department EMT Angie Brown says, "I just started calling radio stations and TV stations to get the word out and everybody started calling us. We didn't have to call anybody to get a donation."

As dawn broke early Sunday morning, Leaf River residents dawned on the trip of a lifetime trucking thousands of relief goods to Mississippi. It's an overwhelming area response to a region overwhelmed by disaster and heartbreak.

Rose says, "When we first started one of our coordinators thought she might get $20 and a few cans of vegetables and that'd be about the extent and we ended up with four semi-loads."

After hundreds answered a compassionate call these nine people are reaching out firsthand and showing Mississippi just how much Illinois cares for complete strangers in desperate need.

Angie Bowman with the Leaf River Fire Department says, “It's kind of ready to get back to normalness. It's a real rat race here the last 2 and a 1/2 weeks."

A goodwill humanitarian race heading south to the finish line with a tiny community emerging as a gigantic winner.

Leaf River's fire department chief returned from New Orleans Saturday night on a similar relief drive. The Leaf River fire department will unload the semi-trucks of goods in both Hattiesburg and Jackson, Mississippi. They're scheduled to return to Illinois late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. Firefighters say hundreds of volunteers assisted in packing and loading the semi-trucks some working 10 hour days on the relief drive alone.

Leaf River fire volunteers have some company in their caravan. Rockford Christian's Principal LeighAnne Bates and other faculty are also headed down south. Now if you remember, Rockford Christian students joined forces with leaf river's relief drive earlier this month. An estimated 85% of the school's 11,000 students donated clothes, school supplies and other goods. While down south, the faculty will also drop by Waveland, Mississippi to touch base with another area group from the Heartland Community Church.

Other Rockford Christian students volunteered in Leaf River last week to unload supplies and the load up semi trucks.


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