Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Donation to Help Volunteer Firefighters Upgrade Essential Equipment

Volunteer fire departments are vital to small-town communities. But they also rely on donations to function. A Pay It Forward donation is helping Harwood Area Fire & Rescue purchase some much-needed equipment.

“A donation like this not only helps us with our expenses, but just as importantly, it serves as a motivator to our volunteers. It’s a show of support. Our squad puts in over 4,000 volunteer hours per year, and this type of donation tells our volunteers, ‘We appreciate your commitment, your dedication, and we are there to support you.’ It has a large impact that can’t be reflected in numbers and dollar signs.” – Brian Giere, Harwood Area Fire & Rescue assistant chief

Bell Employees

Arlene Francis, Accounting Operations Team Lead

Alesha Greseth, Teller Supervisor



Harwood Area Fire & Rescue

The Need

Harwood Area Fire & Rescue is an all-volunteer department made up of 21 active members who are on-call 24 hours a day. The department is a quick-response unit (which means volunteers go on every type of emergency including fire, vehicle extrications, medical emergencies and hazmat) that covers 23 miles of I-29. In 2017, the department went on more than 130 emergency calls.

“That is a lot for a department of our size,” Brian says. “It also forces our volunteers to put in more time and training to make sure they are ready for any type of emergency that arises. Fortunately we have great volunteers who are proud to be there for our community when we are called upon to serve.”

The Impact

Arlene and Alesha both live in the Harwood area and donated some of their Pay It Forward funds to the department, which is working on updating 17 sets of gear that protect volunteers during fires and vehicle extrications. The gear has exceeded its lifespan and costs about $3,000 per set.

“This is a big objective for us, but we will get there one way or another,” Brian remarks. “This donation will certainly help us get that much closer to that goal.”

Arlene says they were surprised to learn how many calls the department went on last year – especially when similarly sized departments typically go on 35 to 50 calls a year.

“We spent almost an hour visiting with some of the volunteers and were amazed and pleased with the amount of pride they take in this volunteer responsibility,” she comments. “They spend countless hours in training and in keeping the fire trucks and equipment in the best working order possible. It was an awesome educational experience for us and only made us more appreciative of the value of having a fire department in our small community.”

“I was amazed at how much money it takes to run a volunteer fire department,” Alesha notes. “They devote so much of themselves to this volunteer position. It inspired me to be more grateful for what they provide to our community.”

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