Volunteer fire departments find ways to raise money during pandemic

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MONTROSE, SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As many critical annual fundraisers have been postponed or canceled at volunteer fire departments across the region, one department in Susquehanna County found a way to adapt.

On Saturday, volunteer firefighters at United Fire Company in Montrose handed out nearly 650 pre-paid chicken barbecue meals in a drive-thru.

“People are looking for an out so they are looking for something different, something that gets back to a little normalcy,” United Fire Company Assistant Chief Charles Daly told Eyewitness News.

A barbecue fundraiser has not been done by the department in more than a decade but as the volunteers were forced to postpone two of their largest fundraisers, they decided to raise money while being in compliance with Governor Tom Wolf’s orders.

“We’re looking at some pretty big deficits in our income,” Day said. “Our annual budget’s going to be significantly impacted. We’re just hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel with this very soon.”

The deficit isn’t something the company was prepared for last fall when they purchased a brand new rescue truck to replace one built in 1992. The department also started construction on its third addition since 1950, leading them to set a fundraising goal of $850,000.

They’re just now rising above $300,000.

“The building was the first necessary step to allow us to start replacing apparatus,” United Fire Company Ben Curley said. “So, we have a lot of big expenses coming up. This year was not what we really needed from a fundraising standpoint.”

The extra room and better equipped trucks are needed as the company’s response area is getting bigger. Now, the community is backing them with one meal at a time.

“It was a big success. We thank everybody supporting us,” Curley said.

The fire company hopes to hold its annual fundraisers at a later date. They also plan to move trucks into the new building addition in June.

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