Shore area lends a helping hand to officer who lost home to fire
BEACHWOOD — Several fundraising efforts are underway to help the family of a Pine Beach police officer whose home was lost to a fire early Saturday morning.
Pine Beach K-9 Police Officer Russell Okinsky was on duty and rushed home when he learned about the fire at his home on Ship Avenue in Beachwood, according to Sue DesMarais, president of the K-9 Valor Task Force. His mother, sister, brother and nephew made it out of the home safely. There were also two dogs in the home at the time, including the K-9 he recently became partners with.
The family's dog, Lola, was euthanized because of the severity of her injuries, while the K-9, named Keto, was still hospitalized at the Associated Humane Societies animal hospital in Tinton Falls, according to JerseyShoreonline.com.
Both dogs were trapped in the basement of the home, according to Pine Beach police.
“Russell is awesome," DesMarais. "He's the little brother I never had. I'd do anything for him."
She has organized a donation drive for Okinsky for clothes, gift cards and dog supplies.
His sizes are 34 Regular pants, size large shirts, socks and size 14 shoes. The only clothes he has right now is the uniform he was wearing on Saturday morning.
A Facebook donation drive has also raised over $10,000.
The Beachwood/Pine Beach PBA is also accepting donations of checks and money orders, which can be mailed to PBA at P.O. Box 253 Beachwood, New Jersey 08722. Checks should be made out to "PBA 253" with a notation in the memo "Officer Okinsky."
New Jersey 101.5's Big Joe Henry is also planning a fundraising concert with Jersey Shore music icons Pat Guadagno and Bobby Bandiera. Okinsky was a guest on the Big Joe Variety Show on the stage in Seaside Heights last Wednesday, and Joe said they had a lengthy discussion about his passion for his training to be a K-9 officer. He also discussed how the intricate training of his dog was going well, and how excited he was to get started.
"I was shocked and saddened to hear about the fire at Officer Okinsky's home. We have decided to put together a benefit and we will invite musicians and comedians to be part of the show which we hope to hold in October or early November," Big Joe said, adding that he's already had an overwhelming response from people wanting to participate.
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