MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach Fire Department has formed its first and only charity to help the community and its fire department members when they need it most.
“We’ll be changing a fire alarm and someone will want to give us a $25 check,” Chief Tom Gwyer said. “Now we have a place for that to go.”
MBFD is kicking off the newly formed charity with a cause close to the hearts of many people. It was an idea one of their own came up with that may actually save lives.
“I always made it a career goal of mine to not end up in the fire chief’s office,” firefighter Chris Farah told WMBF News. “Then, to make this all happen, I had to willingly go into the fire chief’s office. They love the idea and here we are two months later, it’s exciting.”
Farah and his wife, Melissa, spoke with WMBF News about how the fire department’s first autism awareness campaign came about. They said it began two months ago at Melissa’s behavioral clinic in Conway called Milestones.
Farah and other firefighters visited with the kids to help them not be scared of firefighters in their gear should an emergency happen. The couple said the event went well, and it sparked an idea with Farah.
“How can the fire department do a better job of promoting awareness and acceptance of autism in our community. And that’s where the idea came from to do the puzzle piece t-shirt,” Farah explained.
Unknowingly to Farah, Gwyer had something up his sleeve that would fit perfectly together with Farah’s good cause.
“We recently established a non-profit foundation called MB Fire Cares, where we can receive donations and be able to give it back to our community, and also be able to support our employees at their time of need as well,” Gwyer explained.
The fire department has formed its first and only charity, called MB Fire Cares. Gwyer said it will help fire victims, MBFD employees who need it and charities around Horry County.
“There are a couple charities that are kind of near and dear to our hearts because we have been affected with breast cancer and we do have a number of children of our employees that are affected with autism, so yeah when it hits close to home you want to be there for your employees and their families as well,” Gwyer said.
MB Fire Cares is a 501(c)(3) anyone can donate to.
Thanks to Farah, MB Fire Cares will kick-off with an autism awareness fundraiser in partnership with SOS HealthCare. Ten dollars of each sold shirt, designed by Farah, will be given back to SOS HealthCare to pay for Project Lifesaver bracelets.
The bracelets are popular for families with children with autism. They’re GPS trackers to keep track of those who like to wander.
“Super proud! I’m super proud of this guy,” Melissa Farah said to her husband.
The couple is expecting their first child at the end of February.
The shirts go on sale on the Native Sons website starting Thursday morning. They’ll also be sold at the annual Guns and Hoses Charity Softball Game, co-sponsored by WMBF News. Native Sons donated the first 200 shirts. MBFD has a goal to sell at least 500.