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Published: Tuesday, 2/27/2007

Volunteers give food and time to honor detective

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Amy Wagner, left, Ingrid Beavers, and Melanie Hanus prepare tables for the funeral reception at the Erie Street Market. Amy Wagner, left, Ingrid Beavers, and Melanie Hanus prepare tables for the funeral reception at the Erie Street Market.
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You may not have known it without asking, but the nearly two dozen teenage boys in suits and ties yesterday who ran errands and helped set tables at the funeral reception for Toledo Police vice Detective Keith Dressel were working on their day off from school.

They are students at St. Francis de Sales High School, from which Mr. Dressel graduated in 1989.

St. Francis did not have classes yesterday, as the school cleaned up from a weekend activity festival.

So those teenagers had none of the classic incentives - passes from class or community service credits - luring them to volunteer.

Rather, they came to help out of respect for the job of law enforcement and to honor a courageous alumnus, according to Joe Torti, a 16-year-old junior from West Toledo.

"Police officers do so much for the community, and I thought this would be a good way to repay them," he said.

The procuring, preparation, and the serving of food for the estimated crowd of close to 2,000 police officers, firefighters, friends, and family yesterday who attended the post-funeral reception inside the Erie Street Market were accomplished through the volunteer efforts of numerous organizations, restaurants, and individuals from the Toledo area.

Indeed, there were so many contributors that organizers could not attempt to mention them all by name for fear of leaving some out. A formal recognition is expected at a later date, officials said.

At left, Brendan McHugh and Kevin Blank, both students at St. Francis de Sales High School, carry food donated by Busia's Narozny restaurant into the reception area. Detective Dressel was an alumnus of St. Francis. At left, Brendan McHugh and Kevin Blank, both students at St. Francis de Sales High School, carry food donated by Busia's Narozny restaurant into the reception area. Detective Dressel was an alumnus of St. Francis.
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A small sampling of foods offered at the reception included 50 pizzas, plates of meats and cheese cubes, bags of bagels, hundreds of cookies, and huge squares of frosted white sheet cake.

"You can see the food coming in from different stores and restaurants," said Jim Wetenhall, a Toledo firefighter and paramedic. "The community has just been fabulous."

Mr. Wetenhall helped organize crews of firefighters and their spouses as they set up tables and carried boxes of donations to the kitchen.

Toledo firefighters also cooked a meal Sunday for police officers at the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association hall.

During lunch hour yesterday, the owners of Busia's Narozny restaurant in West Toledo, Irene Knappins and Robert Ammerman, delivered trays with 100 tuna and egg salad sandwiches, and an army-sized portion of potato salad to the market's Civic Center Promenade, where tables and folding chairs filled the room and spilled into the building's corridors.

"It's the least we can do for a man who put his life on the line," Mr. Ammerman said.

A group of city employees from Government Center stopped by to leave a vegetable tray, chocolate cake, and other goodies.

Three area chefs and their helpers pitched in to prepare and cook food, said Chef Robert Rosencrantz, who cooks at the Zenobia Shrine and owns a catering business.

Just don't ask what all was on the menu, Mr. Rosencrantz explained, in the hours before guests started arriving at midafternoon.

"Food just keeps coming and coming and coming, and we have no idea what it is until it gets here," he said.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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