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Funds for the foundation Karina Hernandez | Thu, Jul 08 2010 06:41 PM

Combine six buckets of pancake batter with three fire engines and more than 500 local residents and what do you get? A recipe for disaster relief.

The Chula Vista Firefighters Foundation fired up the skillet at station 7 in Otay Ranch for their second annual pancake breakfast fundraiser on June 3.

Attendants received an all-American breakfast, prepared by firefighters, in exchange for a suggested donation of $5. The proceeds of approximately $1,500, will benefit the non-profit organization's humanitarian efforts -helping Chula Vista residents get back on their feet after a fire or medical emergency.

Last year, firefighters hosted 300 attendees, a crowd they weren't prepared for, according to Josh Sanders, a Chula Vista firefighter of more than five years.

Anticipating a larger turnout this year, he said they were better equipped with supplies and plenty of food to go around.

The Family House of Pancakes donated batter, Starbucks donated coffee while the foundation supplied, sausage, bacon, orange juice, set-up and labor.

Sanders admits that although the food was good, attendees mostly came to support the foundation and give their kids a chance to play.

Three fire trucks displayed in the station's driveway were open for exploration by the young and young-at-heart.

Observers climbed into and atop the heavy-duty shining vehicles. They sat in the officer's seats at the front of the truck amidst the high-tech communication devices and climbed into the jump seat directly behind it.

Firefighters showed observers the mechanics behind the many controls and dials on the pump panel, which is located on the side of the truck and used to manage water flow.

They also held games for children and handed out party favors. In one game, kids wore fire jackets and helmets, then raced back and forth carrying a fire hose.

Ryan Duarte, 5, participated in the race four times, yet said a career in firefighting was not in his future.

Behind the fun and games, serious causes stood to benefit from the event. The foundation will spend the money on hotel accommodations, food vouchers and other essentials for fire and disaster victims throughout Chula Vista.

The foundation uses the money at a local level to assist in areas of emergency response and relief, where funding from the state and FEMA fall short, said Deputy Fire Chief James Garcia.

These fundraising events have long been a part of the fire service, he adds, and the money supports citizens directly during their time of need. The donations range from gifts at Christmas time to a monetary contribution for a family whose home just burned down. Throughout any given year, the foundation will spend $6,000 to $8,000 on special grocery cards which can be used for virtually anything in the store, except alcohol or tobacco products, according to Sanders.

They disperse resources on a case-by-case basis.

The Citizens Adversity Support Team, a group that gives victims information, guidance and emotional support after a fire or medical emergency, allocates grocery cards at their discretion, as do fire captains during emergency calls.

Proceeds from the breakfast will also help fund the Captain Roger Haley Memorial Scholarship. The one-time scholarship is available to local high school students pursuing an education in healthcare or public safety. Last year, the foundation awarded two students with $1,000 scholarships each, said Sanders.

Citizens can show their support for the foundation through monetary donations or attending one of the organization's future fundraisers, including a golf tournament at Salt Creek scheduled for September.

For more information, visit cvfirefighters.org.

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