The Orange Volunteer Fire Department is facing a funding crisis. The problem is apparently that the checks are in fact not in the mail.
In the past, the department has used raffle tickets sent through the mail as a primary means of raising funds. The department used to mail a booklet of raffle tickets to every home and those wanting to participate could then make a return donation. It became an accepted part of Orange life: you waited for your tickets and then you sent in your contribution.
The postal service has put an end to that. Solicitations for raffle and lottery tickets are not allowed through the mail under existing regulations.
So the department instead is being forced to go door-to-door as well as sell the tickets at physical locations. As the annual Orange Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival, July 31 through Aug. 3,, draws near, the usual donation levels are lagging far behind.
“I believe last year going into the carnival they had brought in just about $61,000,” First Selectman James Zeoli said at the monthly Board of Selectmen meeting on July 9. “I heard right now they are closer to $13,000.”
The potential shortfall could have a significant impact on the department’s operating budget. Donated funds are used for equipment maintenance and purchases. The town does contribute but the department relies heavily on donations to function.
Orange is one of the few communities left in the state relying solely on a volunteer department. The lack of a professional force helps keep taxes for emergency services down.
“Outfitting a truck with new equipment can easily cost several thousand dollars,” Zeoli said.
Tickets are $5 each and available at:
• People’s Bank, 653 Orange Center Road;
• Diamond Designs, 500 Boston Post Road;
• Orange Fire Station 1, Orange Center Road, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., June 1 to July 29;
• First Selectman’s Office,Orange Town Hall, Mon. to Fri. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
• Knight’s Power Equipment, 286 Boston Post Road, M-F 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Sat. 8:30 a.m. to noon;
• Chip’s Family Restaurant, 321 Boston Post Road, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.;
• Orange Firemen’s Carnival, Orange Fairgrounds, July 31 through Aug. 3, during Carnival Hours.
The drawing will be held on Aug. 3, 4:30 p.m. at the Orange Fairgrounds, 525 Orange Center Road.
“The fire department desperately needs people to step up and follow through,” Zeoli said.