Salem Lakes firefighters start donation drive for Ukrainian firefighters

NOW: Salem Lakes firefighters start donation drive for Ukrainian firefighters

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SALEM LAKES (CBS 58) -- Firefighters in Salem Lakes have found a way to do a little spring cleaning while also doing a good deed. Their donation drive for Ukraine has turned in to more than they expected.

One firefighter spearheaded the idea. Many firefighters answered the call. It's an incredible testimony that the brotherhood is unified, even overseas.

"And it just choked me up and I thought what can I do? What can we do?" said Artur Stypula.

Taking up a collection of unused firefighter gear is something Salem has done in the past to help departments in need.

"We've had other catastrophes, tornadoes and things like that and you know the bell sounds and fire departments will ask for gear and hoses and things like that," said Salem Lakes Fire Chief James Lejcar.

But a donation drive for overseas firefighters hadn't been done. Stypula found a New Jersey Lieutenant already working with "Heroes of Ukraine". The link can be found here.

"When I called Lt Drew, it was like all right we'll do this and then I got off the phone, I was like what did I just do?" Said Stypula.

In one week's time, Salem Lakes took in a truck load of gear for Ukraine.

"We had 80 some pairs of bunker coats and bunker pants. We had no less than a dozen boots. We had one guy that gave us the first coat. He even wore on the fire department that he served with and his first helmet. So that was pretty special," said Lejcar.

What Salem Lakes started isn't over yet. Chief Lejcar is getting inquiries from outside of Wisconsin.

"Well I have a lot of emails to answer here, this is really, really good," said Lejcar.

With so much interest still out there, the Chief is thinking of having one more collection.

"It makes me proud to be an American and a Polish person. I think all of us can work together and we can show unity whether it's here, a community over there and just help others. I mean that's what it's all about is helping others," said Stypula.

Patriot Transport sent a truck and a driver to haul the gear from Salem Lakes to New Jersey this week. It'll be shipped to Warsaw and distributed to Ukrainian firefighters.

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