There is a fairly new — but little known — organization in Walcott that’s been formed to provide support for the community’s volunteer firefighters.
The Walcott Volunteer Firefighters Association (WVFA) was organized in 2011, and members began meeting in 2012. It is a group of people who use money from donations, memorials and fundraisers to apply toward, or pay for, fire department needs or wants that cannot be funded with taxpayer dollars under the Iowa Code.
WVFA’s contributions to the Walcott Fire Department (WFD) will replace the former “morale fund,” an account the department used to make purchases that improved firefighters’ morale,” says longtime Walcott firefighter Lon Warnecke, who was elected WVFA chairmen at its first official meeting on Aug. 29, 2012.
Other officers are vice chairman Roger Siebke, secretary Bridget Geigle and treasurer Christine Kirkley.
“There are some items the fire department budget could not continue to pay for with taxpayer dollars the way we had been doing in the past,” Warnecke says.
That includes gifts for firefighters who have retired after serving 15 years or more, gifts from Santa at Christmastime for the children of firefighters and memorials or flowers for firefighters or retired firefighters who have died.
“Those cannot be paid for with taxpayer dollars, so we chose to form an association to raise those needed funds,” Warnecke says.
“In speaking with other fire departments, this is a very good way for us to go,” added Siebke, a WFD firefighter.
Those eligible to join the WVFA are current Walcott Fire Department members and their spouses or significant others and associate or retired (honorary) WFD members and their spouses or significant others.
But financial assistance and time volunteered to assist at WVFA fundraisers are welcome from everyone.
Warnecke notes that checks people write for funeral memorials made payable to the Walcott Fire Department go to the city for the fire department’s general budget and are used for equipment purchases and repairs.
But checks made payable to the Walcott Volunteer Firefighters Association, while not tax deductible, go to the new group to cover purchases that were made by the morale fund in the past.
The WVFA already has made one purchase from a WFD wish list. It’s a state-of-the-art, large screen television that will connect directly to the department’s computer.
Warnecke says it will allow the showing of firefighting, hazardous material and emergency medical training videos that firefighters will be able to view from anywhere in their large meeting room.
But he says, “the push for the association is, of course, the children for the amount of time their parents spend here volunteering with the fire department throughout the year.
“We have a one-time get-together with children at Christmastime. Santa comes and brings a gift to each child.”
The WVFD, which meets quarterly or as needed at the fire station, has held one fundraiser and another is in the works.
“Last September, in conjunction with the Walcott Fire Department’s annual steak fry for the community, we raffled off a computer tablet and another item,” Warnecke says.
The next fundraiser, being held in conjunction with the Walcott Chamber of Commerce and staffed by volunteers, is a family fun event being held on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Victory Park in Walcott.
“Run to the Movies” features a 2K run/walk for children in four divisions through eighth grade. Registration is $15 each and begins at 4 p.m. The run/walk is at 5. All who register will receive a bright orange WVFD bandanna while supplies last.
The run/walk will take place rain or shine on Walcott streets and will begin and end at the park. Prize money will be awarded to top finishers in each age class.
Free park activities following the run/walk include jump houses, face painting, yard games and the playground. Dinner and drinks will be available for purchase at the food shack.
A movie, “Goonies,” will be shown on a large screen at dusk, and free popcorn will be served.
“It’s a family get-together,” Warnecke says. “We wish people would come out with lawn chairs and a blanket and join us for a fun night and a movie.”
Anyone who needs more information, wants to volunteer to help or wants to make a donation should call Warnecke at 284-6180.
Copyright 2013 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.