The leaders of a fund designed to provide citizens with an opportunity to lend a hand to first responder's said they are working to implement a citywide fundraising effort.

Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said the First Responder’s Excellence and Innovation Committee has had two meetings, with the third session slated to focus on across the city fundraising, rather than hosting a luncheon or an event.

“We started the fund to try and give private citizens a chance to support excellence and innovation in our first responder’s program,” she said. “In our budget we cover the basics, but our current tax rate doesn’t support some of the over and above things we wish we could provide to our first responders. We are doing this fund privately. The Amarillo Area Foundation is acting as our platform. So if citizens have a desire to support first responders, they can go to the website (https://www.amarilloareafoundation.org/aaf/pages/internal/give---first-responder-fund) and make a $20 donation or a $1,000 donation – whatever their heart is led to do.”

Officials said every donation to the fund adds to the message of appreciation for first responders.

“Part of the difficulty in getting something like this off of the ground is that it’s new and no one knows about it,” Nelson said. “As we progress and more people know about this as a potential giving opportunity, I just know, because Amarillo is a generous, giving community, and we have more supporters for our first responders than any other community in the world, that our support will continue to grow.”

The fund provides a multiplier effect converting small gifts into a tower of resources that can be invested in a way to make Amarillo leaders in the public safety arena, officials said, noting the fund is housed by the Amarillo Area Foundation and has 501(c)(3) status, which allows all gifts to the fund to be tax deductible in addition to providing a framework to collect the donations and market the opportunity.

Nelson who said two projects have been identified, but acknowledged more committee work is required to fine tune the fundraising element, noted she serves on the committee with Councilman Howard Smith, City Manager Jared Miller, Fire Chief Jeff Greenlee, Police Chief Ed Drain and two Amarillo citizens at-large.