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CT Checkup: Orange community rallies to support volunteer fire dept. after annual fundraising carnival canceled amid pandemic

New Haven

ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) — This weekend was supposed to be the 95th Annual Orange Volunteer Firemen’s Carnival—the department’s biggest fundraiser of the year. But, due to COVID-19, it was canceled for the first time since World War II. But now, the department is getting creative to raise its necessary funding.

Vaughan Dumas, Chief of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department, told News 8, “The carnival generates about a third of our revenue to pay for our budget each year.” 

Now the department has gotten creative in how they’re raising these necessary funds. 

“The board of finance and Co-chairman Jim Leahy specifically spearheaded this ‘50,000 Fire Truck Challenge’ as a GoFundMe page,” he explained. “An effort for us to recuperate some of our losses in revenue that we’re going to need.”

The goal is to reach $50,000 or more, which will cover the upcoming loan payment for the department’s newest fire truck.

“Last year we bought a new Quint apparatus; it cost us almost $900,000 and we have a $50,000 truck payment that’s due on the loan in October,” Dumas added. “And typically that money would come from the carnival.”

In addition to the GoFundMe page and an ongoing raffle that’s to be drawn this weekend, local businesses have stepped in to keep the volunteers afloat. 

Small Town Nutrition in Orange has pledged to donate 100% of its proceeds next week to the challenge. 

Maria Small, who owns the store with her sister-in-law Tiffany, says it was an easy decision for them to make. 

“They go out and they’re the ones who are saving lives, putting in the time,” she said of the town’s volunteer firefighters. “We really wanted to just give back as much as we possibly could as a thank you.” 

And they’re not the only ones. Jim Hassenmayer of Orange Ale House donated $6,000 to the cause. 

“They’re like the unsung heroes,” he said. “We call them in the middle of the night, they’re the ones who show up.” 

And it’s this support that Dumas says makes Orange special. 

“Anything we can do to help them and anything they can do to help us,” he said. “It’s a team effort; it’s neighbors helping neighbors.”

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