The grieving continues for the families of two Kansas City firefighters who died battling an Oct. 12 fire on Independence Boulevard.
But so does the giving.
Organizers of several charitable drives conducted on behalf of the families of Larry Leggio and John Mesh recently have been bringing in checks.
Several recently have been presented to the families, some of them at the offices of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 42, which continues to list donor instructions at the top of its website, www.iaff42.org.
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Bianca Caponetto, a niece of Mesh, designed a T-shirt bearing the names of both firefighters through an an online fundraising site in October.
“I thought I would sell 50 shirts,” Caponetto said this week.
She sold 3,152 shirts and raised $51,662.79.
The shirts arrived two days before Thanksgiving, so they proved the apparel item of choice during the Thanksgiving celebration of her branch of the Mesh family, Caponetto said.
“Obviously Thanksgiving was not the best for either family, but it was really cool to wear the shirts with pride,” she said.
“I know some members of the Leggio family wore them, too.”
Caponetto expects the check from online fundraising site Booster.com to arrive this week. She plans to bring it to Local 42 officials, who will split the money between the two families.
Bill Galvin, Local 42 president, declined to confirm a current total amount of funds donated, out of concern for the families’ privacy.
Hy-Vee, which collaborated with WDAF-TV, presented a check for $60,500 to the union on Nov. 10.
On that same day, the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association, which had organized a “Dining for Heroes” effort in which 194 restaurants participated, presented a check for $123,000. The donation represented 10 percent of the proceeds from one day in October.
Not all big checks came from big organizations.
Last month Andrew Romano, operator of Cumpy’s T-Shirt Shop in Kansas City, North, drove to the Local 42 offices and presented his own check for $70,160.40.
The proceeds represented revenue generated from the sale of blue baseball caps bearing an embroidered Kansas City Fire Department logo.
Several members of the Royals wore the caps before the Game Five of the American League Divisional Series, which also included a pregame on-field salute to Mesh and Leggio.
Customers soon began lining up outside Romano’s shop. Romano added three telephone lines to field demand.
“It’s just great to know that you are able to help,” Romano said.
During that same Oct. 14 playoff game, the Royals’ 50/50 Raffle, a charity effort conducted since the 2013 season, generated $100,336.
“That was the highest raffle pot ever,” said Marie Dispenza of Royals Charities.
The Royals, after giving half to the winning stadium ticket holders, presented the other half to Local 42 as well as the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund maintained by the Kansas City Crime Commission.
Family members of both firefighters, as well as about 25 firefighters, attended a Nov. 17 fundraiser of the Kansas City Baseball Historical Society at the Westport Flea Market.
Laurence Leavy, the Miami lawyer known as the “Marlins Man” for the vivid Marlins team jersey he wears, doubled the initial $10,000 contribution he earlier had made to Local 42.
“Someone told him he thought he had originally donated $20,000,” said Jeff Logan, society president.
“The story had gotten a little confused, so he announced he was giving an extra $5,000 to each family.”
Logan himself wrote two $2,000 checks for each family that night. The money represented the proceeds of a silent auction, new member fees and other society funds.
“These families are still grieving and I’m sure they are going to be grieving for a long time,” Logan said. “A lot of this was about keeping the community aware of the families. Mr. Leavy said we should do another event like this next year.”
Both Leggio and Mesh attended Catholic schools in the Kansas City area.
Shortly after the fire, the Bright Futures Fund of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, a nonprofit organization that supports diocese elementary and high schools, created scholarships in the names of both firefighters.
Since October donors have forwarded “several thousands” in donations to the scholarship fund, said Jeremy Lillig, Bright Futures managing director.
The Independence School District Foundation continues to accept donations to help the families meet funeral expenses and establish college funds for Mesh’s four daughters, who attend Independence district schools.
Students, teachers, bus drivers, food service workers and others across the district have donated to the fund. Its total this week stood at $6,919.41, said Jana Corrie, district spokeswoman.
The Kansas City Fire Department ballcaps are still on sale. A portion of future proceeds will help scholarships in Mesh’s and Leggio’s names, Romano said.
Meanwhile, Caponetto’s second T-shirt campaign runs through Friday.
“I’ve worn the shirt every day that I won’t have to be at work,” she said. “You put it on and you feel comfort.”
How to help
Instructions on donating to the John Mesh and Larry Leggio families through the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 42 can be found at www.iaff42.org. Information about the Bianca Caponetto fundraiser can be found at www.booster.com/in-memory-of-the-fallen-kc-firemen. For information about Kansas City Fire Department baseball caps, go to www.cumpys.com.