Last weekend I attended the annual awards banquet for our local volunteer fire department.
During my corporate life I’ve been to my fair share of charity awards banquets. From my cynical point of view, lots of money that should have been going to the charity itself was being wasted on a fancy soiree, so folks could get dressed up and give out awards to one another, congratulate themselves on their own philantrophy, and desperately try to impress each another.
No doubt my city peers would have found our country function amusing. The event was in a block building next to the Baptist church that is itself next to the fire station. The department consists of about a dozen folks from the community who volunteer their time, and sometimes risk their lives, to respond to fires, medical emergencies and wrecks. They are our local first-responders, for whom the community is very grateful.
The banquet was attended by about 100 folks, who sat on folding chairs at folding tables. There were no tuxedos, no suits, and no evening gowns. Our catered meal was fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, macaroni and cheese, iced tea and chocolate pie.
After an opening prayer, a local gospel bluegrass group played a few songs (unpaid volunteers of course, although we did take up a love offering). Following that the chief of the department gave out awards, recognizing the firefighters who had earned special recognition that year for their service. He also gave out awards to members of the community who had assisted in fundraisers (particularly pointing out the woman whose fried pies are always the biggest hit at the bake sale).
Our community is blessed to have its volunteer fire department, and is blessed to be a real “community.”
When someone needs help, the person who shows up to answer the call will not be a stranger. That is how it should be.
And if any of y’all happen to be in Keeling on Saturday, stop by the fire department. The volunteer firefighters will be up all night Friday, in the cold, preparing Brunswick stew to sell in a fundraiser. And if you’re lucky, there might be some fried pies left at the bake sale.