September 11 student production inspires $ 14,000 gift to Des Moines firefighters


Although the Des Moines Fire Department has a budget of $ 47.5 million, a donation of $ 14,000 was a big surprise to the firefighters.

“It’s unusual for us to receive such a large donation,” said Matt Porter, a district manager. “It doesn’t happen very often.”

The funds come from admission proceeds for a September production at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, staged by local middle school and high school students in memory of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, as well as a donation from Principal Financial Group.

This week, six cast members of this production gathered at fire station no. 5 to deliver a check for $ 14,124 to the ministry trust fund, supporting, among other things, the ministry honor guard. The gift is in recognition of the role played by first responders following the attacks.

“Every donation, every dollar received … it all goes directly to first responders,” said David Kilpatrick, executive director of Des Moines Community Playhouse.

The play “With Their Eyes” was performed at the theater in September in memory of the attack on the World Trade Center 20 years ago. The production featured 23 monologues from the perspective of college students attending a New York high school three blocks from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The cast of Des Moines Playhouse

“It’s kind of crazy to think about not only that moment, but what led to it and what happened after,” said actor Caethen Stocken, an eighth grader at Oak View Junior High. . “You would have a story of how (someone) was having the worst day of their life and then 9/11 happened the next day and sort of eclipsed the bad things that happened before.

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“September 11 is one of those things you read in the history books, but it made it more real,” said Catie Wilwerding, an eighth-grade student at Holy Trinity Catholic School who was doing also part of the production. “These weren’t the same videos you see… It was someone else’s point of view and you got to see how it affected and changed them. Not being alive, we didn’t really know how this really changed people. “

According to District Fire Chief Ed Haase, the donation will help things like fire prevention education classes and the upkeep of a recently assembled historical exhibit in the department’s administration building that describes the story. of the fire department in Des Moines.

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“It is an amount that is certainly appreciated and we are going to find a good home for it,” said Al Setka, communications manager for the city of Des Moines. “It’s good for some of these firefighters who were there on September 11 to see the interest and commitment (of) young people who were not even born at the time to understand how it is important.”

Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at Des Moines Register. Contact him at [email protected] or (319) -600-2124, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.

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