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Radios get Salvation Army digitally connected

In attendance for the presentation of the digital radio system by the West Fargo Fire Department to the Salvation Army were: from left to right, Kevin Dockter, Fire Department Board of Director president; Steve Carbno, Business Manager and Director of Emergency Services with the Salvation Army; Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider: Captain Bill Mealy, Salvation Army; and Kenneth Zetocha, Fire Department Board of Directors treasurer.

Every year for the last seven, the West Fargo Fire Department has "been passing the boot" during the annual West Fest Parade, accepting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The same collecting occurred again this year but with a little bit different twist - a red kettle was used to gather donations designated to a new recipient - the Salvation Army, for the purchase of a digital radio system.

West Fargo Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider said the Salvation Army has been a staunch supporter for years and the department is happy to be able to help them out. "The Salvation Army is a great supporter of the fire department. If we have a major incident they are always on the scene right away tending to firefighters and victims needs, partnering with the American Red Cross. When it's hot, they provide cool drinks for hydration as well as a rehab area, and when cold they have hot drinks and a place to warm up. We can't thank them enough for the assistance they provide on the scene."

That's why fire department members thought it more than appropriate to reciprocate with some special goodwill this year.

"All the emergency responders have switched to digital radios," Schatschneider explained. "The Salvation Army didn't have one, and therefore didn't have the ability to communicate with those out in the field, so we collected the money for them so they would have that communication gap covered. Now they will have the ability to communicate with other emergency responders so they better know what is going on, instead of waiting for a call."

A total of $1,805.99 was raised (very similar to other years), with $1,400 of that going towards the radio, and the remaining amount presented to the Salvation Army for other projects, including the purchase of a couple of television sets for the dining room for people they serve.

Steven Carbno, Corp Business Administrator and Disaster Coordinator for the Salvation Army, said he "can't say thanks enough" for the generosity. "I think it's important that everyone knows what a benefit the fire department is to the community and how these guys, as volunteers, are always there and step up. Time after time they have come to our assistance. They took it upon themselves to help us fill the need with this digital system. We sometimes take these guys for granted. West Fargo is a volunteer fire department that takes a back seat to nobody. I've been involved with fire service for 35 years and there is none better in the state, and they can rest on those laurels, but they don't - they do so much more. It makes us a better team because of this association."

Schatschneider also has a secondary connection to the Salvation Army, serving as a member of their Advisory Board for the last five years, working very closely with the group's annual kettle campaign held during the holiday season.

He looks forward to the annual campaign, joined by several other individuals and organizations that are always eager to help out as a gesture of appreciation for the Salvation Army's contributions in the metro community throughout the year.

This support is already being evidenced in reference to the upcoming bell ringing campaign that officially begins around Thanksgiving weekend.

"We've had a lot of organizations that have stepped forward this year for bell ringing," Schatschneider said. "The Salvation Army really had a presence during the flood fight and these people still remember and appreciate that, especially those in areas that suffered the most. Now these individuals and groups are coming out wanting to help as much as they possibly can."

In that regard, the residents of Oakport Township, one of the hardest hit areas during the flooding, are taking all the kettles for one full day in the metro wide area, as are employees of State Bank & Trust.

The official kickoff news conference for the annual Bell Ringing Campaign has been scheduled for 9 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18, at West Acres, in the J.C. Penney wing.

Schatschneider is once again organizing the West Fargo campaign at the 13th Avenue SunMart location, and is gratified to report that all the time slots are already filled for the Friday and Saturday scheduling he oversees.

He is also helping coordinate activity at Gander Mountain, 2121 43rd St. S, Fargo. Anyone wishing to work Friday and Saturday time slots there can call Schatschneider at 433-5380. Those individuals wishing to 'ring bells' Monday through Thursday at a variety of locations are asked to contact Gerri Leach at the Salvation Army, 356-2689.