homepage logo

Fire department plans to hold Annual Sportsman’s Bash virtually

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Aug 31, 2020

Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department raises thousands of dollars at their Annual Sportsman's Bash. This year, the event will not be live as seen here, but will instead be held virtually. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Restrictions on public gatherings that have been established to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have prevented many organizations from holding fundraisers over the last few months.

One of those organizations, the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department, has not been able to hold weekly bingo since the COVID-19 Pandemic began in March. In addition, volunteers are making adjustments and modifications to other events that have helped to raise funds for the department in the past.

“Ever since we started the Sportsman’s Bash it has been a sell-out event,” said Zac Morgan, who is heading up this year’s bash committee. “A few years back we even added 250 tickets and we sold out even faster than the year before.”

The committee members, who have met regularly throughout the pandemic, had hoped to continue with the bash as usual; however, with restrictions on gatherings still in place, they have decided upon a virtual format for this year.

“We have kept the same prize lay out, the same number of tickets sold at the same price, Morgan said. “However, we wanted to do more, since people won’t be able to actually attend the event. So, we have added six additional cash prizes of $500 each.”

The theory behind the additional prizes was to offer more to community members who support the event, since they won’t be able to attend in person and enjoy all the event typically offers, such as food.

“We just wanted to give them a little bit more,” Morgan said.

The on-line event is scheduled for Nov. 14 and tickets can be purchased at the fire department or from any member. Only 1,750 tickets are available, so those interested are encouraged to buy them soon, for a donation of $30 per ticket.

In addition, Morgan said an online store is in the works to do online raffles on the department’s Facebook page.

“Once all of the tickets are sold, we will go Facebook live and pick the winner,” Morgan said.

One item expected to be raffled on the new online site includes a Stihl Power Tool Landscape package worth over $750.

“We are working with other businesses in the area on some Yeti products and a large cordless tool kit,” Morgan said. “We are actively building the program, and our plan is to have the first raffle right after Labor Day.”

Fundraising is an essential part of the SVFD’s funding, and since no events have been held throughout the pandemic, the department has been unable to raise funds that would normally come in.

“We are holding pretty well,” said SVFD Treasurer Denny Barron. “We have not been able to pay down on our debt as we have in other years.”

Barron mentioned that expenses do not go away just because funds cannot be raised. Everything from fuel to utilities still has to be paid. Since the department has not been able to hold any fundraisers, its main source of donations has been the result of direct mailings to community members.

The department, Barron said, has applied for some CARES Act funds through the county and hopes to hear something positive to help offset specific costs related to the pandemic.

Barron also shared that the fire department plans to go ahead with their annual apple butter making in October; however, there will not be craft vendors or food for sale.

“We plan to make approximately 75 percent of the normal amount of apple butter,” Barron said this week.

“We have bought special masks for our volunteers,” he said, stating that distancing will be practiced. “It will definitely look different than in past years.”

In addition to fundraising events for the department itself, Barron said the pandemic has been detrimental to several groups who partner with the fire department for fundraisers, mostly bingo events.

“Jefferson baseball and softball, volleyball and show choir are some of the groups that have been unable to do their events,” Barron said, mentioning the Rotruck Foundation and the Miss West Virginia Scholarship pageant are two other organizations who have not been able to host their fundraisers.