Wayland American Legion Donates To Wayland Fire Survivors

February 27, 2022

By Jasmine Willis

WAYLAND — The Wayland American Legion held a Euchore Tournament on Feb. 26 to donate funds to the fire survivors. A proceed of what is made at this event will go into the Wayland Fire Benefit Fund for those impacted by this tragedy.

Post Commander Kevin Mark shared several upcoming events that are geared towards helping the fire survivors and celebrating 100 Years at the legion.

A Chicken Barbecue is coming up on April 2 to benefit those impacted by the fire. There will be mixed entertainment, live band, and a basket raffle. There will be more details about this in coming weeks. Mark did request that anyone who can donate baskets for the raffle to contact him.

Countless support has been rolling into the Wayland Fire Benefit Fund. The legion asks that anyone who wishes to donate to this fund contact Mark. You can email them at waylandaux402@gmail.com for any donations moving forward or call the legion.

“This is the strongest community I have ever seen,” Mark said. “We are doing what we were designed to do and help out the community. All of the credit goes first to the first responders and to everyone who has helped.”

Mark said he hopes people will understand the pain in loss over this tragedy.

“I hope people understand how hard it is to go through this. I have been in a fire, and I know first-hand how hard this can be. There is no morning after handbook on how to deal with a fire. These people have lost their livelihood, home, animals, and everything they owned,” he said. “I want to thank everyone who has come out to help these families. We have been a place for people to come and we will continue to help for a long time.”

Mark said it takes a huge team to help after a disaster like this one. He is proud of all the students and staff that came out to help from Wayland-Cohocton Central.

Mark said he is very upset with what happened during this tragedy at Simply Harmony. This robbery was a huge blow to the efforts of the community.

“I think this puts a huge black eye on what we are all trying to do here,” he said.

Perkinsville Fire Chief Walter Drum Jr. said the department donated $500 from their fund to the victims of the fire. Springwater Sons of the American Legion also donated $500 to the victims.

“All of the fire departments worked together to save lives and the buildings on Main Street. We are all going to meet next week to talk about the fire and what we can change going forward. We typically do this after a big fire to talk about the scene. It was a great team effort by everyone involved. We saved a lot of Main Street from being burned down,” he said. “There are a couple of shops that are in really bad shape. I don’t know if they will be able to reopen. But we heard Hometown Diner was able to go right back to work only a couple days after the fire.”

Drum said it takes a long time to investigate a fire like this one. The investigators have to work the scene and see what is able to be saved.

Drum said he was working on the day of the fire, but was able to come down to help battle the flames. He is very thankful to his brothers and sisters in multiple departments for battling the blaze with him. They all become a family within these fire departments, and appreciate the work each of them does to save lives.

Perkinsville Fire Department is in need of fire fighters and EMT’s to join the team. Drum has been a member of the fire department for 37 years, after watching his father, Walter Drum Sr. do it most of his life. Drum Sr. was recently honored for 50 years of service and is still active in the fire department. It has truly been a generational call to serve.

“We have a good crew there. We have good guys and girls who are dedicated to the department. We all help each other out when it is needed,” he said.

Food was donated to the fire fighters and other first responders at the Wayland Fire Hall, Wayland Village Court, and Shannon’s Barber Shop to keep everyone fed who was fighting the fire. Drum said when he heard Main Street was up in flames he raced to the scene. This is one of the biggest fires they have had to deal with.

“We had to fight it for a long time. There is always a fear it will rekindle when it is this big. We had to stay around to make sure that wasn’t going to happen. There was no fire at Hometown Diner, so we used their roof access to get up there and see what was happening. Steuben County has this new technology that helped us out a lot, they used drones to get arial shots of the building to show us where to go. For a major fire like this one it is really great to have this technology.”

Drum said the legion has had a big heart to help out the community since the fire happened. He hopes to know the official cause of the fire by next week when they have their meeting.

The legion is also planning to have old time movie nights through March and April to help celebrate the 100 Years Anniversary. As many know the legion was once a movie theater. Mark asks that anyone with a large projector donate it to the legion for these old films.

On March 13 at 3 p.m. the Pinewood Derby will be held at the legion again this year to benefit the local cub scouts. Children will race at 3 p.m., veterans and business owners will race at 5p.m. Mark wants anyone who is interested to contact the legion for a car to race in the derby.

In order to prepare for the big 100 Years Anniversary the legion is asking anyone who has the 1922 original grey pamphlets to bring them down. There will be a huge Memorial Day Parade on May 28 to celebrate this milestone. The legion is asking anyone who wants to get involved to reach out to them. Mark wants to include farmers, tractors, trucks, fire fighters, organizations, floats, and more to help them celebrate at this parade.