Peninsula music buyers help send patriotic CD to top spot

Posted: Friday, November 02, 2001

Thanks, in part, to sales on the Kenai Peninsula, the album "God Bless America," a benefit for The Twin Towers Fund, reached No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 album charts. In its first week in stores, it sold 180,984 copies.

"It's one of our top sellers," said Terry Rahlfs, store sales director for Fred Meyer in Soldotna. "I know corporately it's our No. 1 selling CD."

Chuck Walker, electronics manager at Kmart in Kenai, said "God Bless America" and other patriotic albums are "selling really well right now."

Celine Dion's rendition of the title song, "God Bless America" opens the album. Other artists include Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Tramaine Hawkins, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, John Mellencamp, Billy Gilman, Frank Sinatra, Lee Greenwood, Pete Seeger, Gloria Estefan, Mahalia Jackson, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Bill Withers.

The Twin Towers Fund was established by New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giulliani to assist and support family members of the uniformed representatives of the city's fire department, emergency medical services, police department, port authority, state court administration and other government personnel who lost their lives or were injured as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.

Callers to the fund are greeted by the message that a huge outpouring of goods, services and volunteers have been received and emergency needs have been met. However, "financial donations for uniformed service members who rushed into harm's way are essential."

Last week, Kelly Lasher of New York was answering calls to the fund from individuals needing assistance and from others wanting to make donations.

"We're very excited to hear about the CD," Lasher said, adding that not only was it expected to bring in much-needed donations, but it also is a "very therapeutic" show of support.

That morning, Lasher had taken a call from a woman who had been on the 47th floor of the trade center the morning of Sept. 11. Still suffering from second- and third-degree burns, the woman said she remembered being carried from the building by firemen. At some point she was blown from their grasp and found herself entangled with others who did not survive the devastation.

"She has constant nightmares," Lasher said. "She has a job to go back to, but she can't because she has so many burns on her body. She just needs assistance to pay some bills."

The mother of two young children, Lasher tries to separate what she hears at work from her home life.

"I don't want to worry my children," she said. "I have a 9- and a 6-year-old, and they're already panicked."

Making the situation worse is the fear of contracting anthrax, a disease presumably being spread through the postal service.

"We can't even get our mail," Lasher said. "(My children) just can't believe this is a normal world. What's next?"

The show of support that has poured in from all over the United States helps.

"We know that everybody is with us," she said. "We all know that."

Rahlfs and Walker said they have plenty of CDs on hand. And they added that their employers' and co-workers' support goes beyond the sales of "God Bless America."

For every patriotic T-shirt sold at one of Fred Meyer's 130 stores, Rahlfs said $1.50 is donated to the American Red Cross. So far, $307,581 has been raised.

Employees in the Kenai Kmart raised $624 in a bake auction.

"It was just among employees," said Gloria Humble, department pantry manager, who had just purchased money orders to send the donation to the American Red Cross.

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