Tailgating for a cause: Local company hosts fundraiser on game days

Published : Sunday, 11 Dec 2011, 6:01 PM CST  —–  Beth Jones, FOX 11 News

Click on photo for video of story.

ASHWAUBENON – Brats and chili were doing more than just filling the bellies of hungry tailgaters across the street from Lambeau Field Sunday.

“All the proceeds here go to the local Red Cross for local disaster relief, which we feel is a very good cause,” said Andy Kaye with Recoveron Restoration Services.

Since the season started the company has hosted this fund raising tailgate. The company has been at it for two seasons, raising more than $2,000 last year and looking at more than $3,500 this year.

And the money couldn’t be coming at a better time. Since July, the local Red Cross has provided assistance at 200 fires in Northeast Wisconsin; their “yearly” average is around 250.

One of the most recent, was the Pulaski fire, which destroyed three buildings and damaged two others in the village’s downtown. The Red Cross assisted eleven people displaced in that fire. “It does cost money to help people in our community,” explained Steve Hansen, Red Cross Regional Chapter Executive.  “The American Red Cross is there with food, clothing a roof over someone’s head.”

How much money exactly? Red Cross officials estimate they spend more than $500,000 in disaster relief efforts, with the majority of those funds coming from donations, like the tailgate.

And with the year as busy as it’s been and right in the midst of their peak months, Red Cross officials expect to exceed that budgeted amount this year. “The winter months tend to be our busiest time, two-thirds of our fires we respond to happen between November and February,” Hansen said.

And because of that, officials say making donations and public awareness of the need are particularly important this time of year. Sunday’s tailgate was the final one of the season, but coordinators say you can expect to see them again come pre-season.

Firefighters have been busy lately; Winter typically the busiest time of year

Reporter: Beth Jones, WLUK Fox 11 – Click HERE to view video of the story.

GREEN BAY – Thursday morning’s fire in Pulaski, which displaced a family, was one of four other emergencies The American Red Cross responded to within 24 hours.

Since last month, the Lakeland Chapter has responded to 17 incidents, the majority of them fires, assisting 79 people.

But all four Red Cross chapters across the region have been busy.

“When we look at it since Thanksgiving, we’ve responded to some type of disaster every single day,” explained Red Cross Communications Director, Jody Weyers. “So not only are we out there providing support for the families, but we’re also there as a resource to the emergency crews.”

And it’s been tough to keep up.

“It definitely puts a strain on our resources as well as our personnel and volunteers, as well as financially, with having so many incidents back to back,” Weyers said.

Area fire departments, like Green Bay, have been busy too. They’ve responded to 9 residential fires since Thanksgiving.

“What’s unfortunate, that’s about on average for us,” said Lt. Nick Craig.

While the number may seem excessive, Craig says the department usually responds to about 10 fires at least by the first of the year.

December, January, and February are the busiest three months of the year for fire departments across the nation.

In fact, the National Fire Protection Association says one third of all fires and fire deaths occur during those months.

But there are ways to prevent becoming a statistic.

“We’ve seen several wood stove fires, chimney fires in the area and one of the big things we want people to remember is make sure you have them checked out by a certified chimney sweep to make sure they’re in good working condition before the heating season starts,” Craig explained.

One more thing, check your smoke detectors. Craig says over half of all residential fires they respond to, don’t have working smoke detectors.

The Green Bay Fire Department does offer free smoke alarms to residents who need them.