Allegheny Township fire department’s annual craft show draws 200 people
Paintings, handmade wrought iron candle stands and homemade jewelry couldn’t be more different.
But they do have one thing in common: The sales of those items will help keep gear on the backs of the firefighters who serve the Markle Volunteer Fire Department.
“Every little bit helps out,” fire Chief Jim Rearick said.
The fire department, along Joyce Street in Allegheny Township, hosts an annual fall craft show to generate money to pay for bills, building maintenance and fire equipment.
About 200 customers came to this year’s show, which was held Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s a lot of work to keep it going,” said Joyce Gardone, fundraising coordinator. “Our gas bill here is $500 a month.”
The craft show is free to the public, but vendors are charged $35 per table. It offers a variety of merchandise. Food also is sold.
The money made from table rentals and food sales is what goes to the fire department. Vendors keep the money from their individual sales.
“One hundred percent of that money — the money that we make on food, the money that goes from tables — all goes into the fire department,” Gardone said.
About 25 vendors were at the two-day event, which Gardone estimates brought in about $900.
“It draws a crowd,” Rearick said. “Not a huge crowd, but it’s drawing people in.”
Vendor Linda Litterio makes jewelry and is a member of New Kensington Fire Company No. 1. She said fundraising is crucial for volunteer fire departments, whose numbers have been decreasing.
“It’s tough,” Litterio said. “You have dwindling numbers of people who can help you raise money, and you need the money. They need to stay safe.”
She thinks the craft show is something that benefits the community.
“It helps to shed a whole new light on what volunteer firefighters do,” she said.
Gardone got involved with the fire department three years ago after her mother-in-law got sick. The firemen helped her mother-in-law during that time, and she wanted to do something to give back.
She decided to become a social member and help out with fundraising when she learned how much it actually costs to run a fire department. She also wanted to alleviate pressure on the firefighters, who in addition to fighting fires were running their own fundraising events.
“We don’t go out and fight fires, but we’re back here trying to make money so that they can do what they need to do,” she said.
Rearick said the social members are an important part of the fire department.
“If it wasn’t for them, there’s a lot of things we wouldn’t be able to do,” he said. “We’re hurting for volunteers to begin with, let alone doing fundraising and firefighting.”