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Oronoco Fire Department overwhelmed with donations for Ukraine

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 6:42 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – For the past few weeks, the Oronoco Fire Department (OFD) has been collecting donations of fire gear and equipment to send to Ukraine.

The department has seen an outpouring of donations from fire departments across the state of Minnesota and even a few in Wisconsin.

As of Monday afternoon, there have been 30 fire departments across Minnesota and Wisconsin who have donated gear, so much gear that the department had to find a different building to store it in before it gets collected later this week.

Piles of donated fire gear to send to Ukraine
Piles of donated fire gear to send to Ukraine(KTTC)

“That’s what I was hoping, was just southeast Minnesota,” Oronoco Fire Department Training Officer Johann Sonnenberg said.

OFD is continuing to work with Minnesota non-profit Chaplain Ministries International to send donated fire equipment to Ukraine.

“Stuff that we had, 10 sets of gear with seven helmets and three sets of boots wasn’t quite enough for them to come down and pick it up,” Sonnenberg said. “I said okay, we’ll see what we can do about getting more.”

OFD reached out to other southeast Minnesota fire chiefs to see if they would participate and received an outstanding response.

“We’ve got turnout gear, helmets, boots, gloves, hoods, SCBAs and extra bottles,” Sonnenberg said.

A call more than two dozen fire departments answered.

“So, we’ve got things from Excelsior, Luverne, three or four or five from Wisconsin, so Siren and Webster Wisconsin and others like Ripon Wisconsin,” Sonnenberg said.

The department never thought they would get this many donations.

“With us we have 30 so far,” Sonnenberg said. “And I have two for sure that are coming tonight and I have a couple that are probably coming on Tuesday.”

So many donations that all of the gear is now being stored in the Oronoco City Shop.

Donated fire equipment to send to Ukraine
Donated fire equipment to send to Ukraine(KTTC)

“We just thought we’d keep it in our fire hall and thought no problem, we’d just put it between our engines or we’d find some space and it was way too much. So we’ve brought over three times now, loads of gear and we just have people stop here and offload their gear here because it’s just too much.”

Sonnenberg said Chaplin Ministries International handles the logistics of shipping the gear and donations are used to cover the costs.

The non-profit plans to get the gear to Ukraine, but if it cannot get there safely it will be held onto until it’s safe to deliver or could also be sent to Peru or Mexico.

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