Sunday, April 14, 2024


Westport Firefighters Donate Funds for Iraq Care Packages

Westports professional firefighters have donated $1,000 to send care packages to U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq. firefighters082404260.jpg
Shirley Sambrook of Fairfield receives a $1,000 check from the Westport firefighters for Project From the Heart postage. From the left: Asst. Chief Jon Gottfried, Firefighter Brett Kirby, Miriam Zalenski, Shirley Sambrook, Pat Vida, Dot Szudoro, Elsie Voros, Lt. John Plofkin and Asst. Chief Chris Ackley. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)  Contributed photo

The donation comes from the firefightersҒ benevolent fund—a non-profit charity organized in 1976 and administered on a volunteer basis by members of the department to support local charitable organizations.

The Iraq mailing gift came about from a chance encounter at a local supermarket where the firemen shop for their meals, according to a news release from the department.

Bakery worker Miriam Zalenski struck up a conversation with Lt. Chris Ackley, whose nephew recently returned from a tour of duty in Falluja.

The baker, along with a group of her friends, had been collecting and mailing items to the soldiers since the Vietnam conflict.

Their packages included everything from socks to CDss. But while the group had success with their packages, the mailing costs to Iraq were mounting up quickly.

Ackley returned to the firehouse and made a proposal to the Benevolent Fund members to pick up the tab for some of the mailing costs.

Within weeks, the $1,000 donation was in the groups Iraq postage fund, enabling them to continue their support of our troops overseas.

ғThese ladies are doing an outstanding thing with their careђ packages, Ackley said. ԓIts a lot more than the stuff; itҒs a connection to home for many young men and women.

“Were proud of all our armed forces, not just those stationed in Iraq, but being under fire in the desert sun we wanted to give them a boost and helping these ladies out with some postage money was a ґno-brainer.’

“Its unfortunate that unless they receive more donations for postage the program is unlikely to continue and the work these ladies have done for so long will stopҔ

Citizens wishing to support Project from the Heart are urged to contact the group directly. Miriam Zelinski can be reached at 203 261-8550, or contact Shirley Sambrook at 203-5903.

The firefighters raise money for their Benevolent locally through a bi-annual fund drive, and an annual golf tournament.

They also fill the coffers through a voluntary payroll deduction. At this time, every member of the department has signed up for this automatic contribution plan.

The firemen expect to kick off their community fund drive this fall and expressed the hope that members of the Westport community will join them in supporting the cause.

2 thoughts on “Westport Firefighters Donate Funds for Iraq Care Packages

  1. In response to Mary’s question . . . I remember my fifth grade teacher explaining (in 1968) that �conflict� was the correct term to use because Congress had not declared war. (By the way, Miss Lambert was a great teacher! Since I don�t know where she is to thank her personally, let me just say thanks to any and all teachers who might read this message.)
    See the following link for an encyclopedia article on Viet Nam, including a section titled �Legal Status: �War� or �Conflict��.

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