Little kids offer big help

by Paul Teetor

Jake Borson reads a letter to Fire Chief Dennis Groat Monday morning before donating $3,306.01 to a fund for the New York Firefighters. Next to him are Zack Rosenfeld, center, and twin brother Zack Borson, left. Photo by Paul Teetor

It was a little ceremony with a big meaning for all involved. Jake Borson read the hand-written letter, but he was speaking for all the students at Meadows Elementary School.

In a sad, serious voice, Borson asked Fire Chief Dennis Groat to relay the letter’s message coast-to-coast.

"Dear New York firefighters, we are donating this money to you because we are sorry that the planes crashed in your city," Borson said "We knew people who got crashed and lost their lives and we feel sad. We hope all this money will help you. Love, Zack Rosenfeld, Jake Borson and Zack Borson."

With that, the three second-grade students from the Meadows School handed Chief Groat a coffee can containing $3,306 and one cent.

It was a labor of love that started right after the Sept. 11 terror attacks at the World Trade Center.

"We were watching it for days after it happened, and then we went door to door asking for money," said Zack Rosenfeld. "We wanted to help the people who are helping the people who died and lost their lives."

Most people gave $1, $5 or $10, the kids — Rosenfeld and the Borson twins — said Monday morning.

"But we also got a check for $1,000," Rosenfeld said proudly.

A look inside the coffee can revealed that it was from Janet Wisialowski, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Ernest and Young.

"I had been wanting to do something that would have a direct impact," Wisialowski said. "This seemed like a good thing, because it is going right to the firemen in New York."

Wisialowski said the thousand dollar check, while overwhelming to the children, was the least she could do.

"When you sit down and think about what you spend just going to dinner in Manhattan Beach, it seems really insignificant," she said. "I was happy to help."

But the students didn’t just ask others for money. They also reached into their own pockets.

"A lot of the money came from the kids’ piggy banks," mother Gena Borson said. "It helped them deal with the tragedy by just being able to do something positive."

Chief Groat said the donation by the Meadows School kids didn’t surprise him.

"The community has been unbelievable in reaching out to help," Groat said as he stood outside the Fire Department and gestured at nearby Manhattan Beach Boulevard. "We’ve had people walk in off the street and hand us money and checks to help the victims and firefighters. This donation brings the total to more than $20,000." ER