- June 9, 2021
Ocoee firefighters are going above and beyond their call of service to give back to the community.
Members of the Ocoee professional firefighters union, IAFF Local 3623, have begun a T-shirt drive to benefit local cancer and veterans foundations. The union is selling green shirts to benefit veterans and blue shirts to benefit cancer patients and/or their family members. Each shirt costs $20, and can be purchased through the union’s Facebook page, or by visiting Ocoee Fire Station 25 at 563 S. Bluford Ave. to place an order in-person.
Ocoee Fire Department Engineer/Paramedic Jaime Escobar has been leading the charge for the shirt drive and said he got the idea for it after he designed a shirt that honors veterans for him and his fellow Ocoee firefighters to wear on duty.
“A couple of months ago, I got together with our fire chief, John Miller, and asked him for permission to see if I could design a T-shirt that we would be able to wear on duty for all the veteran holidays, and of course he was OK with it and approved it,” Escobar said. “As far as what I’m doing with the union, I wanted to do something to where our local union, 3623, can pretty much make the same impact (of showing support). I figured if I designed some T-shirts, and we sell them out there, we’d use those proceeds and everything and put it toward a local veterans fund or a local cancer foundation fund that would go out and help people and show that our Local 3623 cares.”
Escobar said the shirts for the union will be different from the shirts he designed for him and his fellow firefighters. He added this is the first year the union has done a shirt drive to benefit local veterans and a cancer organization. He said Ocoee firefighters have worked with the Homes for Heroes program in the past and that program is just one of the veterans organizations that would benefit from the shirt drive.
Escobar said funds raised for cancer could benefit individuals or families the union members know personally and added the union still is deciding on a local beneficiary.
“I really just didn’t want us to be another fire department that was wearing a veterans shirt or, say, a breast cancer shirt just to wear it,” Escobar said. “I wanted there to be a cause behind it.
“As far as cancer, we’ve had a lot of members in the past (who got it),” he said. “We’ve lost a couple of our members in the past couple of years from cancer themselves. … Right now, we haven’t specifically found a (cancer) organization we would donate to.”