Five weeks after the Christmas Eve ambush that left two West Webster firefighters dead, donations and fundraisers for the department have tallied more than a half-million dollars. The department must now decide what to do with all the money.
At the Carey Lake Restaurant in Macedon, there was an appreciation dinner Thursday, and with it a chance for first responders to relax.
None more deserving, than the members of the West Webster Fire Department.
"We're getting spread pretty thin, because we're trying to attend all these events that people want us at," said Ken Smith, West Webster Volunteer Association President. "If that's what makes them feel good, then we want to be a part of it."
There's many ways to grieve after tragedy. One way is to give. And the West Webster Fire Department has been the recipient of much giving.
"It's coming from local people, businesses. It's coming internationally. We're getting donations from Europe, Australia," Smith said.
But firefighters are better-equipped to deal with a backdraft than a windfall. With more than a half-million dollars already coming into the West Webster Fire Department, and more pouring in every day, firefighters are struggling to tally it up.
And the big question: where will it all go?
"We've got money designated for all four families that were involved; money coming to the West Webster Fire Department, they want us to have some money; some of it's going to our auxiliary, some of it to the Explorer post... so there's a bunch of money that's designated to a bunch of recipients," Smith said. "All of the money is going into one big account right now, but we are keeping track of where the various funds are earmarked for."
There are also ambitions for building a permanent memorial, though no specific plans have been drawn up.
Firefighters say there is no end in sight for the various fundraisers around the community. There's also no end to their thanks.
"It's absolutely helping us heal, and get over it, and start rebuilding."
Donations for Lake Road Homeowners
A number of donations have also come in for the homeowners on Lake Road, whose houses burned to the ground during the Christmas Eve tragedy.
The West Webster Fire Department is directing all of those donations to the Webster Community Chest.