ALTO, TX (KTRE) - After weeks of spearheading cleanup and recovery efforts in the city of Alto after a series of deadly tornadoes, community leaders are holding a fundraising and appreciation event for first responders in the city.
Larry Jenkins, president of the Alto Area Christian Brotherhood, said such an event was well-deserved considering the amount of work the men and women of the police and fire departments have put in in recent weeks. The brotherhood meets once a month to talk about different events, and the idea came up during one of those meetings.
“I felt like we needed to do something to appreciate them,” said Jenkins. “Some of the members said hey that’s a good idea, so we got our heads together and voted on it. And now, it’s fixin’ to get into action.”
The National Weather Service said tornadoes of EF-2 and EF-3 strength moved through Cherokee County, leaving a trail of damage along Highway 21 that left four people dead in at least three counties.
“During the tornadoes, a lot of these guys worked some long hours, you know, cleaning the roads, making sure people were not injured in homes,” said George Martin, president of Booker T. Washington Community Center. “They was out helping the community, and I thought that was a great service they did.”
“Since that tornado hit, we’ve been trying to get everybody back in place, helping folks do this and do that,” said Jenkins. “Someone mentioned it to me, said ‘Look, why don’t we just cancel?’ I said nah, we don’t need to cancel. I said because this is the time we come together as a group of people and try to help each other.”
Jenkins said although first responders. many of whom are volunteers, are tasked with helping others, many had to make the difficult decision of leaving their own damaged or destroyed homes to report for duty.
For this reason, Martin said knowing who the men and women helping the community is almost as important as showing appreciation to them.
“I think it’s important people know who our first responders are,” said Martin. "These individuals are our neighbors and our friends.
“Let the community know who they are; who they call on in times of need. But also, to show the younger individuals, the younger men in the community, how they can give back to the community.”
“We’re just going to try to appreciate them a little, give them a little donation, let them know we appreciate what they do for us here in Alto,” Jenkins added.
The first responders appreciation event will be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Booker T. Washington Community Center.. Organizers will put together a hot dog dinner and collect donations for first responders, particularly for the Alto Volunteer Fire Department. The event is free, and the community is invited to attend.