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Local market supports firefighters with shirt sales
Cost Less firefighter t-shirts
The Turlock Cost Less grocery store is selling t-shirts in support of local firefighters and their breast cancer fundraising campaign (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

With many of the area’s normal fall fundraisers cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, one local grocery store is doing its part to continue with its giving ways.

Every October for the past eight years, Oscar Avila and the crew at the Turlock Cost Less grocery store on W. Main Street have donned bright pink t-shirts in support of the Turlock Firefighters Local #2434 and their breast cancer fundraising campaign. The specially designed pink t-shirts have helped raise over $100,000 during the past several years for the Bill and Elsie Ahlem Cancer Endowment, which assists local community members with their cancer treatments.

Turlock Fire Interim Chief Gary Carlson told the City Council that the firefighters just weren’t able to sell the t-shirts this year as many of their distribution points were closed due to the pandemic.

When Avila heard there would be no pink t-shirts this year, he decided to take things in his own hands. Cost Less has designed its own t-shirt, with the help of artistically inclined employee Timothy Brown, as a tribute to firefighters. The red shirts — not pink, as Avila didn’t want to infringe on the firefighters’ signature fundraiser color — read “We Appreciate Firefighters” and feature firefighter equipment such as a helmet, axe and hose.

Avila said it was important to him to show support to the firefighters who “are having a very rough year” and at the same time raise some funds for their breast cancer campaign. Avila lost both his parents to cancer and didn’t want the pandemic to stop his efforts to help others battling the disease.

The t-shirts can be purchased for $20 at Cost Less, 255 W. Main St. in Turlock.