Among the many letters now posted on a bulletin board at the Martinez Fire Department's headquarters are notes expressing the feelings of a communityafter the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
''Firefighters are special,'' one card written in crayon exclaims. ''They spray the water. They save people from the fire. They take people out of the fire. They slide down the pole. Thank you for all you do.''
The note was sent to Martinez firefighters by local schoolchildren and is surrounded by several other notes of condolences recently delivered by children and residents.
The show of support is for firefighters nationwide and for the families of those who lost firefighter relatives in New York during the toppling of the twin towers Sept. 11.
Chief Doug Cooper said the attacks have had a tremendous impact on Martinez firefighters. Now, they will show their support for New York with a boot drive to raise funds for the families of firefighters lost in the attacks.
The drive began Friday and will continue from 2 to 8 p.m. today and Monday at various grocery stores in the Martinez fire district. Firefighters also will be at the Wal-Mart on Bobby Jones Expressway and will accept donations at all Martinez fire stations.
All of the money raised will go directly to the national 9-11 Fund, which is the only fund endorsed by the International Fire Chiefs Association.
Cooper said his department was at first committed to sending a group of rescue workers to New York.
But officials told him there was ample help in New York City and that the best thing his department could do would be to raise money. Cooper said his department answered the call immediately.
''The group has been wanting to do something ever since this went down,'' he said. ''They're going around here like someone died in their family. It's a real brotherhood.''
In case more volunteers are needed at a later date, however, Cooper said a group of Martinez firefighters will be on standby for the New York effort.
''We will be ready,'' he said.
A T-shirt with the New York Fire Department logo - which was obtained during a visit before the attacks by a Martinez firefighter to a New York station - is being displayed at one of the Martinez stations.
Just as it serves as a reminder of the worst that could happen to emergency workers, firefighters say the cards of support they've received have shown that some good can also comeout of a tragedy.
''It's so touching,'' said Honey Shore, the department's public information officer. ''We certainly want the community to know how much this means to us.''
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