Nine local businesses have rallied together to donate $1,000 each in support of the Fourth of July fireworks spearheaded by the East Longmeadow Jaycees, which faced a $6,000 shortfall for the festivities.
Center Square Grill owner Bill Collins told Reminder Publications he heard that the annual fireworks were jeopardy through news sources and he and owner Michael Sakey initiated a plan to keep the annual tradition alive.
“The next morning [on May 7] we both went into work and we both kind of brought it up at the same time,” Collins explained. “It was serendipitous and so he said, ‘Look, we have to do something.’ We just came upon a year of business in the town. The town’s been completely supportive of us and we’ve got tons of regulars. Everybody takes really good care of us.”
Collins called Maureen Basile of the East Longmeadow Jaycees that same day and told her initially that he would donate $1,000 and invite other business owners.
“I called her back and I said, ‘No. Forget the $1,000. I guarantee that if nobody comes in with me for the $6,000, I’ll put the $6,000, but I’m going to do my best to get some support in the business community,’” he added.
This phone conversation occurred around 11 a.m., Collins noted. By 2:30 p.m., $9,000 had been raised from various business owners. All of the eight other business owners that Collins asked to donate $1,000 did so.
“You’re in business not to just make money,” Collins said. “You have to give back and this is something the community really enjoys.”