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‘We want to make sure they know they’re taken care of’: Donations presented to Valdosta’s First Responders Fund

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 9:35 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - A special donation was made Thursday morning to help families of four Valdosta first responders that were injured while working Monday.

As of Thursday, one firefighter is still in intensive care after his leg was amputated below his knee and another firefighter remains in stable condition.

“These are horrible situations but we’ve seen the community come together so well and be so supportive of our people. Phone calls and emails and hearing today the donations that already have been made in just 24 hours, it’s just amazing and very emotional,” said Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan.

Overcome with emotions and appreciation, Manahan and Fire Chief Brian Boutwell were presented with checks for the First Responders’ Fund.

“It’s refreshing for us to see the outreach from across the country. We’ve received phone calls, emails, support through all kinds of ways and it’s showing how people still unite and take care of each other,” said Boutwell.

Donations presented to first responders fund.
Donations presented to first responders fund.(WALB)

The account was opened Wednesday. As of Thursday afternoon, bank workers had raised $2,000 amongst themselves, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk donated $1,000 dollars from his own pocket and another $1,000 dollars came from people in the community with another $9,000 being pledged.

Ashlyn Johnson, the city spokesperson, said all city employees have medical benefits and in events like this, they’re medically covered.

Johnson said this fund will help fill their financial gap. She said most have secondary forms of income, working multiple shifts and an extra job.

“We know they have a lot of worries right now and the last thing we want is them to worry about finances and sustaining their household. So, we want to make sure they know they’re taken care of,” said Johnson.

All four first responders have a long road to recovery.

Johnson said those released from the hospital still have follow-up appointments and rehabilitation.

“We’re all doing one thing together. Everyone knows everybody so it’s not just a number, it’s one of your friends, one of the people you see three to four times a week. It’s a difficult thing when you see somebody who works with you laying there. It’s hard, it’s traumatic, but thank goodness we didn’t lose anybody,” said Sheriff Paulk.

If you would like to make a donation, you can go to any Guardian Bank location. There’s also an interactive teller Machine that’s opened from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday. Just say you’re making a deposit to the “Valdosta First Responders Account.”

Guardian Bank on Norman Drive.
Guardian Bank on Norman Drive.(WALB)

They’re currently working on setting up a Venmo account that will allow donations to be made via the smartphone app.

Manahan and Boutwell said they appreciate the community’s support and all the messages received and passed along to those hurt.

Guardian Bank on Norman Drive.
Guardian Bank on Norman Drive.(WALB)

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