Local Fire Fighters Donate More Than $3,000 Worth of Gift Cards to Former Member with Cancer
by James Coulter
More than 200 local firefighters have decided to donate more than $3,000 worth of gift cards to a former member who is currently battling cancer.
Members of IAFF Local 3531 Polk County Professional Firefighters received $20 Publix gift cards as Christmas gifts from their union. Most of them have since decided to donate their cards to a former member in need.
Clay Geiger previously worked for Polk County Fire Rescue (PCFR) but now serves at the Lakeland Fire Department. He is currently out of work receiving treatment for a rare form of cancer, explained Dean Molnar, Captain Paramedic of Polk County Fire Rescue, and IAFF Local 3531 Secretary.
Darren Monk, a Special Ops Captain Paramedic, decided to donate his card to Geiger. He posted his intentions on the message board, and his memo received a massive response with other members wanting to do the same.
“I asked our union president if it was okay if I donated mine to Clay,” Monk said. “I made that suggestion, and everybody jumped on board [with the idea].”
Many of the IAFF members had known Clay working with him in PCFR. Some of them knew him, having attended paramedic school or fire standards with him. Upon hearing that he was battling cancer, most were more than willing to follow Monk’s lead and donate their gift cards, Molnar said.
“Darren posted on the message board that he wanted to check and see if it was okay to donate his to Clay because Clay had a rare form of cancer and had been out of work for treatment,” explained Molnar. “It blew up after that post, and we ended up having quite a few people donating their gift cards to him as well.”
More than 185 cards were provided for Clay so far from the members, with 15 to 20 more wanting to donate their cards. Collectively, the $20 gift cards amount to nearly $4,000 donated to Geiger during his time of need.
Previously, the union had offered turkeys to their members on Christmas; however, this gift idea proved challenging to manage and distribute, as more than 440 turkeys would be provided to people, Molnar said. The choice to switch to gift cards proved more manageable, and in the case of this year, much more beneficial.
“It is nice to see our members doing this, giving something that was intended for them, just giving it to somebody else to help them out,” he said. “It was nice, the brotherhood. He was a former employee, and now we have half of our members who donated their gift cards to him.”