91-year-old donates $500K to rural volunteer fire department

CALHOUN, Mo. — “Small-town people know how to handle a few dollars,” Sam Sloan said.

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He will find out soon enough. The longtime Calhoun, Missouri, resident donated $500,000 to his town’s volunteer fire department, KMBC-TV reported.

“I’m making a donation to the fire department. I’ve been planning to for several years,” Sloan, 91, who has lived in Henry County since 1960, told the television station. “It’s half a million dollars and a half a million dollars is a pretty good donation.”

Calhoun Volunteer Fire Chief Mark Hardin is certain to put that money to good use. The department, which only had one volunteer when he took over as chief in 2021, will use the cash to purchase three firetrucks, new equipment and new gear for his 28-person crew, KMBC reported. Hardin said the gear the volunteers use is from the 1980s and 1990s.

“The first thing that we’re going to replace is our tanker pumper. Our tanker pumper has been patched together about 17 times in the last year. I think I welded on that thing,” Hardin told the television station. “Every one of our firefighters, from head to toe, we’re going to be fitted next Monday for new gear.”

That makes Sloan happy.

“I’m getting a lot of credit for (donating the money), but I don’t know how to fix one of them things,” Sloan told KMBC. “But I know how to make a dollar and there’s a difference there,” Sloan said.

Hardin said his department will donate the old gear to other volunteer fire departments that need help.

“We’re going to help our neighbors. We’re going to pass that along,” Hardin told the television station.

Sloan’s donation will go a long way toward modernizing the Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department.

“Never in a million years would I ever expect anything like that for a rural fire department,” Hardin told KMBC. “In March of this year, at the end of our first quarter, we had $169 left in our bank account.”

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