By Daniel Silliman
With over-sized checks and applause provided by a class of trainees, the Clayton County Fire Department gave away $9,000.
The money, raised at the Firefighter Combat Challenge in Morrow in October, was donated to six charities Monday morning.
"You young ones," Chief Alex Cohilas told the rookies in the back of the room, "I hope you get an idea of why we serve the community. We're called to service, to serve every nook and cranny and every corner of our community."
Donations were given to three local charities: Arts Clayton received $1,000; the Department of Family and Children Services food bank received $2,500; and Rainbow House received $3,000.
Linda Summerlin, executive director of Arts Clayton, praised Cohilas' leadership and vision, and also praised all of the department's firefighters and paramedics.
"You cannot be here," Summerlin said, "without knowing these guys love this county and would fight for it."
Donations were also given to three national charities: The Shriners received $500, March of Dimes received $1,000 and the Muscular Dystrophy Association received $1,000.
The fire department also gave out plaques of recognition to three corporate sponsors, who gave a combined $16,000 to fund the event. Peach State Freightliner, Atlanta Medical Center, and Omni Flight were honored.
Cohilas said the three supported the event, despite tough economic times.
"We had to overcome a lot of obstacles this year," the chief said. "It's no surprise to anyone that with the economy, some of our sponsors were not able to contribute as they had in the past."
The department raised the money and gave the money away through a non-profit, which was set up to bring the Firefighter Combat Challenge to Clayton County, four years ago.