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Benefit concert raises funds for fire victims

May 24, 2017
By GABRIELA HARDAN ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Families from the Lehigh Acres community got together on May 21 to lounge on chairs and listen to live music while eating smoked barbecue in a show of support for the recent brush fire victims.

Held at Lehigh Acres Christian Church, the Stop Drop Rock and Roll concert was organized in an effort to raise funds for the families whose homes and belongings were damaged and destroyed.

Lehigh resident Richard Farsi jumpstarted the fundraiser to help out as much as possible.

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The Stop Drop Rock and Roll benefit concert held on May 21 at Lehigh Acres Christian Church
helped to raise funds for the Lehigh Acres families impacted by the recent Acres brush fire.

"Being part of the community, I'm always out there helping people," he said.

On April 21, a 400-acre brush fire started near 19th Street West and Ann Avenue, destroying several homes and vehicles before it was extinguished. Some victims have had to move away due to their loss.

Since the fire, local agencies and community groups have worked together to collect and distribute clothing, toiletries and other needed items, along with raise money to help the victims rebuild.

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Farsi noted that some of the families impacted by the fire were in attendance.

"I loved that all the first responders showed up and that a couple of the victims of the fires and their families showed up," he said. "That meant a lot to me."

The benefit concert featured raffles and auctions, with several donated items up for grabs. Attendees relaxed on the church's grassy grounds and enjoyed live performances from local bands. Activities were set up for the children, which included a bounce house, an 18-foot inflatable slide an obstacle course.

The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District was also in attendance to educate the public on brush fires and provide safety tips. The first responders who assisted during the fire were recognized.

One of the bands that performed at the fundraiser was Relentless Fire.

"It was for a great cause and a way to give back to the community by donating an hour of our time to entertain the victims, volunteers, guests and vendors," Renee Hose, the band's leader, said.

All of the bands that played volunteered their time, according to Farsi.

For the raffles, local businesses and residents donated several of their personal items.

Farsi said all of the raffle proceeds will go directly to a fund for the fire victims.

Some of the onsite food trucks, including Big Smoke BBQ and Catering and Weiner Dogs, said they planned to donate a percentage of their profits to the fund for the families affected by the fires.

Kathi Stubbs, an event organizer and volunteer, said she got involved because she could.

"I was raised to know that you do everything you can to help somebody," she said. "I want to be able to put my head on my pillow at night and know that I did something to help."

"There's little kids involved, there's families involved that are separated and it's real tough," Stubbs added.

There were about 16 volunteers who organized and participated in the fundraiser.

"Just seeing compassion come from people here is my favorite part about this event," Stubbs said. "To see that there are still people who have a compassionate heart and come together to help out touches me the most."

"If you don't have a community, you have nothing," she added.

According to Farsi, the concert is just the first fundraiser to help those impacted by the fire. He said there is more to come, and it will not stop until the families are settled and have everything they need.

Lehigh Acres Christian Church is at 50 Bell Blvd. N.



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