Volunteers set fundraisers

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ryan Foster and Brad Whitley, president of the board of directors support their community by volunteering at the Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department.

Ryan Foster and Brad Whitley, president of the board of directors support their community by volunteering at the Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department.

The Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department does a lot to support the community. In the next couple of months, there are a few ways the community can support them right back.

The department’s semi-annual Big Fish Fry event will take place at the station, located at 300 Kings Highway, on Sept. 26.

Its annual golf tournament is also coming up and will be held on Oct. 3 at Sleepy Hole Golf Course, located at 4700 Sleepy Hole Road.

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This year, the tournament will be in memory of the late Chief Jerry Saunders, who volunteered with the Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department and served as chief from 1986 to 2002, said Brad Whitley, president of the department’s board of directors.

Saunders joined the department at age 16, as did Whitley. That’s simply what boys did when they turned 16, he said.

“(Saunders was) by far the leading responder of all time,” Whitley said of this particular organization. Not only did he serve in the department for 58 years, but also he was also a member of the Chuckatuck Ruritan Club for 50 years, was involved in Boy Scouts and served on the Suffolk Police Auxiliary, he said.

There are currently about 50 members in the volunteer fire department, 30 of which are active, Whitley said. “We are the only 100-percent volunteer fire company left in the city,” Whitley said. The team is dedicated, feels a sense of community pride and simply has a desire to help, he added.

At the golf outing, participants will begin at 1 p.m., and there will be food, drinks and raffles, he said. Whitley hopes to get more than 100 players to attend this year.

The department needs to fundraise about 55 percent of their annual funds, Whitley said. All proceeds of these events go to the fire department’s operational budget. “Fortunately, our community is 100 percent behind us,” he added.

At the department’s Big Fish Fry, which has been around for about 60 years, guests can purchase tilapia, hush puppies, coleslaw and potatoes for $10 from 4 to 7 p.m., Whitley said. The firefighters cook all of the food, except for the coleslaw, he said. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the event or in advance.

The rather large event typically brings in about 1,500 people, Whitley said. “That’s a lot of people over for dinner,” he said playfully.

Because of the large number of people, traffic at the June event was bad, he said. In an attempt to avoid that situation again, guests who prefer to take-out their food are being asked to take Old Wesley Lane and Bob House Road and then come around behind the station. There will not be any changes, however, for those who intend to eat there.

Along with all that they do for the community as a fire department, the department also does other community service activities. Each year at the Peanut Festival, they provide fire and emergency medical service coverage on Sunday, Whitley said. They will continue to hold National Night Out at their station in August each year, as well as host the Chuckatuck Historical Foundation’s Founder’s Day event coming next month, Whitley said.