ALGER — In September 2008, the people of Alger couldn’t imagine something positive coming out of Isaac Zamora’s shooting rampage that left six people dead.
But just one month later, in an effort to raise money for the victims’ families, Alger residents created an ongoing tradition and built a closer community.
Now in its 10th year, the Alger Community Fun’raiser featured food, beer and local vendors Saturday to raise money for the Alger Community Hall.
“It’s a horrific thing that happened to our community,” said Alger Bar and Grille owner Dawnn Thomas. “But it ended up bringing us closer together.”
Thomas, a member of the Secret Sisters of Alger, was asked to help collect donations after the shootings. She partnered with Anette Witter, who worked on the Alger Community Hall Committee, and the two organizations raised $16,000.
“(The fundraiser) put glue in the community,” Witter said. “It introduced more of us on a personal level.”
In the years since, Witter said, more people have participated in events at the hall because of the fundraiser, helping it serve its original goal as a shared space for Alger residents.
Last year’s donations were used to build a wheelchair ramp and rebuild the wood shed, as well as pay for regular maintenance and community events, like dances.
Across from the hall Saturday, children toured fire trucks and shot water from a fire hose at the Alger Fire Station. Chief David Skrinde said the volunteer fire department relies on its ties to the people it serves for support.
“We don’t want to be unknown in our own community,” Skrinde said.
This year, he said, the fire department raffled off a ride-along in one of the trucks to help raise money for the hall.
Alger resident Mike Stevens said he comes to the fundraiser every year, and it keeps getting bigger and better.
He said events like these are important for smaller, spread-out communities like Alger to feel unified.
“You get to know your neighbors,” he said. “You learn you can rely on them, even if you don’t see then every day.”