Nevadans Donate To Fund For Soldiers' Families

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For nearly a year, Nevadans have donated pennies, dollar bills and even $10,000 checks to a statewide fund for families who have lost a soldier in the Iraq war.

Created by Gov. Kenny Guinn last April, the Nevada Patriot Fund has collected $112,000 - and the fund's co-chairman says he has been amazed by the generosity.

"We've had everything from the elementary school class putting their pennies in, to great $10,000 donations, to a couple of bucks," said Jerry Bussell, the governor's homeland security adviser. "I can't tell you the look in the eyes of those folks who are receiving it. This is Nevadans helping Nevadans."

"We are certainly still taking donations as long as the war is on, and we have folks in harm's way," he said. "We could be just one moment away from having another Nevada patriot fall."

Since April, the fund has paid $12,000 to the families of three Nevada soliders who were killed in Iraq:

-Marine Lance Cpl. Donald John Cline, Jr., whose wife, Tina, lives with their two sons in Sparks.

-Marine 1st Lt. Frederick Pokorney, of Tonopah.

-Army Capt. Josh Byers, who graduated from Reed High School in 1992, and lived with his wife in Fountain, Colo.

The fund also has paid $6,000 to the families of Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Cameron Bryan Sarno of Las Vegas and Cpl. Matthew Commons of Henderson.

The fund pays $12,000 to the families of soldiers who had dependents, such as spouses or children, and $6,000 to the families of soldiers who did not.