COVID-19 shutdown affecting fundraisers, vital cash for midstate first responders

Local

ENOLA, Pa. (WHTM) — As the state continues to reel from the COVID19 pandemic and subsequent government-mandated shutdown, one side effect is the impact the crisis is having on volunteer fire departments.

Many of those departments rely solely on fundraisers to get by, but with large gatherings being canceled statewide — those monthly and weekly events aren’t happening.

“When you make $1,000 a week on a bingo, and all of a sudden you take that away, you’re starting to really cut into operating funds that are used for other things,” said East Pennsboro Township Fire Department spokesman, John Bruetsch.

It’s a big hit to a small department.

Enola Fire Company 3 (which is one unit under the Township’s department) has weekly bingo, and it draws a crowd. But for now, bingo is a no-go.

“The fire company making $1,000 a night, you know if this goes eight weeks you could see an $8,000 loss,” Bruetsch said.

He said monthly meat raffles earn them about $2,000 each, which is now even more cash not in their coffer.

“Instead of buying a new rescue tool or something like that, they may have to keep the old one a little bit longer,” Bruetsch said.

At New Cumberland River Rescue, their big spring fundraiser has also taken a blow. They sell chocolate peanut butter eggs in local shops.

“Lot of [the eggs] are in the businesses which have closed so, and I’m not sure when they’re gonna open, the eggs are there so hopefully they can sell them afterwards,” said First Assistant Commander, Tim Stoner.

The Rescue makes about 600 dozen eggs, and each egg is $1. They got in a few weeks of sales before COVID-19 hit — but now, those sales have slumped.

“We’re not saying we’re hurting, it’s just a trickle-down effect,” Stoner said.

Monthly meat raffles for them net about $1,600 — April’s has already been pushed to May.

Both organizations welcome donations at any time so they can continue their life-saving work.

“These people have their heart in the right place, they wanna make the money, they wanna sustain their operations and now they have to be curtailed, so it’s tough on everybody,” Bruetsch said.

Neither organization is cutting staff amid this pandemic, they say if you call 911, help will come.

For more information on Enola Fire Company 3, click here; for more information on New Cumberland River Rescue, click here.

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