Rim Country: Outpouring Of Support

Payson Safeway collects $34,000 in 10 days as residents rally around families


Houston Mesa Fire Chief Mark Essary was among several Rim Country firefighters who attended memorial services for the fallen 19 Hotshots in Prescott last week. Outside Station No. 7 there, the home station of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, supporters left flags, cards, balloons and flowers. Essary left a Houston Mesa Fire Department T-shirt that local volunteers had signed.

Houston Mesa Fire Chief Mark Essary was among several Rim Country firefighters who attended memorial services for the fallen 19 Hotshots in Prescott last week. Outside Station No. 7 there, the home station of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, supporters left flags, cards, balloons and flowers. Essary left a Houston Mesa Fire Department T-shirt that local volunteers had signed.

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The photo on the right shows the white hearses carrying the bodies of the HotshotPhotos courtesy Prescott Fire Department

The location of a flag put up where 19 firefighters died working to protect the neighborhood in the foreground.

A dollar on register 3, $300 on register 1.

The overhead announcements flooded Payson’s Safeway all week as shoppers tacked donations on to their shopping bills for the families of the fallen 19 firefighters.

In all, in less than 10 days, Payson shoppers donated $33,600 — the most “by far” of any of the 113 Safeway stores in the state, said Dan Dillon, store manager.

“It was almost spiritual,” Dillon said of the cascade of contributions, which overwhelmed cashiers and customers alike, with some people cheering and others crying at the registers.

“It was amazing,” he said, adding he pulled some cashiers overcome with emotion.

The drive ended Saturday and Dillon thanked everyone who participated.

“We were just the conduit, but (the customers) did all the work.”

The outpouring of support for the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew didn’t stop there. Some residents and firefighters attended the massive memorial service in Prescott last week as well as smaller, individual services for the team that died when flames overtook their position.

Payson resident Cindi Barnes attended firefighter Clayton Whitted’s service. A member of the Lions, Barnes is a friend of Clayton’s sister Cheryl Whitted.

Afterward, she looked for some way to honor the firefighters and help the families affected by the fire. She settled on collecting household goods and furniture.

Nearly five years ago, an explosion destroyed her Payson home and everything inside and she barely escaped with her life. Barnes has since rebuilt at 100 W. Chateau Circle, but still finds herself looking for things she lost.

“I have been there and I know how it feels and it is time to pass it forward,” she said. Barnes plans to bring donations to the Prescott fire station Saturday and anyone interested in donating can drop things off at her home. Barnes said being disabled she needs someone with a truck to help deliver the goods.

Contact Barnes at (928) 978-3765 for more information.

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Photos courtesy Prescott Fire Department

The white hearses carrying the bodies of the Hotshot crew at the funeral ceremonies last week.

There are other ways to help too. A handful of organizations are collecting donations to benefit the families of the firefighters and those who lost their homes, including the 100 Club, American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Yarnell Fire Department.

The Yarnell Hill Recovery Group Web site www.YarnellHill RecoveryGroup.org has complete information on donating and recovery efforts.

Officials representing those organizations providing services to residents, including the Yarnell Chamber of Commerce, fire department and community center and heading up the recovery group.

“A dozen volunteer sub-committees have been formed to provide resources for everything from emergency housing, financial assistance and medical treatment to clean up and contractor referrals,” according to a press release from the group.

The group says donations are sorely needed in a community where the average resident is 64 years old, perhaps uninsured and with an income of less than $16,000.

Tax-deductible donations can be given directory to the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group through National Bank of Arizona account No. 76 0000 2730 or by mailing a check or money order to P.O. Box 1086, Yarnell, AZ 85362.

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