A sign of support and solidarity for their neighbors in the southern and eastern portions of the state, employees of the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau have raised more than $2,000 in donations for the victims of Arizona's wildfires, the Greater Phoenix CVB announced last month.
The Wallow Fire, which is the biggest wildfire in Arizona history, began on May 29 and has since consumed more than 530,000 acres of forests — an area nearly twice the size of Phoenix — forcing evacuations in the towns of Alpine, Eagar, Greer, Nutrioso and Springerville. The Monument Fire, meanwhile, began on June 12 in the Coronado National Monument near the Mexican border; so far, it has burned more than 27,200 acres.
"These fires have consumed our thoughts," said Greater Phoenix CVB President Steve Moore. "So many of us here have ties to White Mountains and Sierra Vista, be it friends or family or favorite weekend retreats. These are beautiful areas, and they contribute so much to Arizona's character. We wanted to do something to quickly help folks affected by the fires."
To raise money, CVB employees organized an intra-office auction of donated goods, used office furniture and tchotchkes with outdated logos. One of the auction items — which sold for $200 — was a mandatory day off for Moore, who had to stay home from work and refrain from contacting the office via home computer of BlackBerry.
All told, the CVB's 40-plus employees raised $2,076, all of which was donated to two Arizona Districts of Lions Clubs International that are distributing assistance to victims of the Wallow and Monument fires.
"We don't have a large staff, but we do have a caring one," Moore said. "I'm proud of how everybody pitched in, from our management to our student interns, and I'm hopeful these beautiful corners of Arizona return to a state of normalcy as soon as possible."