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The American way

DuPont AUSA and American Legion help firefighters and families

Denise Dhane looks over some of the donated items that will be used to help firefighters in eastern Washington. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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There is a connection between the 2005 devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and this year's massive forest fires in eastern Washington.

Denise Dhane is that connection to Operation Firestorm.

The vice president of the DuPont Sub-Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, Dhane and Don Ham, the commander of American Legion Post 53, have teamed up to collect food and hygiene items for the firefighters and the family members who have lost their homes.

The first truck of items left on Monday morning.

"When we first posted this on our Dhane Orthodontics Facebook page, stuff just started coming in," Dhane said. "We hope to fill truckloads of items to send east to help out."

Approximately 200 soldiers from the 17th Field Artillery Brigade have deployed to eastern Washington. Another 700 Washington Army National Guardsmen are deployed as well.

"We will help when and where we can," declared Ham during a telephone interview. "We will also help Legion families and veterans - past, present and future."

Both the American Legion and the DuPont Chapter of the AUSA are pleased with the response they have received from businesses and individuals who have dropped off items.

"Helping the firefighters and families who have lost everything is deeply personal," Dhane continued. "The AUSA and Post 53 have stepped up."

The point about stepping up opens another chapter to this story.

Last Friday morning, just before Dhane and I talked, she received a telephone call from the past. Ten years in the past, to be exact.

A decade ago, Dhane helped organize efforts to aid the victims of Katrina. New Orleans resident Becky Odenia Frey remembers Dhane's work.

"We lived through Katrina; we lost everything," Frey said during a telephone conversation. "Denise stepped right up and helped us. It is important to give back."

Frey is organizing efforts to have the Catholic school her children attend raise funds and collect items to be sent to Washington.

"She was there for us; we can now help her with her efforts to help others," Frey said.

An adjoining office space next to Dhane Orthodontics serves as the collection point.

"We are expecting to collect a lot more and ship the items east," Dhane said. "It is the American way for us to help each other."

Items can be dropped off at Dhane Orthodontics, which is located at 1100 State Dr., Suite 281 in DuPont.

For more information, contact Dhane at 253.686.1505.

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