By Bridget LaMonica
JEFFERSON TWP – The savory smells of bacon, eggs and waffles might not be the first thing you think of when visiting a fire department, but for the first Sunday in each month, that's exactly what the Jefferson Township Fire Department is all about.
For over ten years now, the volunteers at the Jefferson Fire Department have served up an impressive breakfast at a surprisingly cheap price – all to get the community together and pay some bills.
Selections include waffles, french toast, made-to-order omelets, breakfast burritos, corned beef hash, bacon, eggs, sausage and seasoned and plain potatoes. Juice, chocolate and coffee are also available.
The firefighters and volunteers put together such a good spread, sometimes their patrons forget it's not a restaurant staff putting together the meal.
With that hard work and dedication, a certain following developed.
“When we first started, if we broke a hundred [customers] it was a lot,” said fire chief Don Wallace. “And then every time we reached it the goal went up. If we could hit a hundred and fifty, that would be awesome. Then we hit a hundred and fifty and just smashed that record.”
The fire department serves more and more people each month, leaving their old goals of a hundred people in the dust.
Recently on November 5th they served 294 customers.The record so far has been 330 people.
The breakfast is not only a way to support a local volunteer organization, it also provides a gathering place where neighbors and friends meet and relax before a busy work week.
They get plenty of out-of-town customers, notably regulars from Scranton and Pittston, as well as a number of people from Lake Wallenpaupack and The Hideout.
The furthest traveling group hails from Jefferson Township, New Jersey, just under eighty miles away. It's a group of firefighters who visit the local Jefferson Township breakfast once a year, wearing their own fire company shirts.
Some local attendees have made their mark for longevity. The Prussia and Wallace families have been attending the breakfast for just about as long as it has been running – ten years. The youngest member was only a baby when they started attending.
Roy Wallace, Brenda Wallace, Julie Black and Bessie Prussia were among the regulars happy to support the community breakfast.
“We're thankful to have people willing to volunteer their time to do [the breakfast],” said Brenda Wallace.
Out of the volunteers present working the breakfast, only three are actually firefighters. The other volunteers help with the fundraising side.
Chief Don Wallace credits this diversified membership with the success of fundraising efforts like the breakfast, annual carnival and their Super Bowl Wing Sale.
The money raised from the monthly breakfast goes towards paying monthly utility bills such as water, electric and oil for heat in the firehouse.
Fire Chief Wallace stated they were in good shape financially thanks to their business-minded approach to expenses and fundraising, but there was one necessity they could still use more.
“We need volunteers. We're like every other department in the country – we're just short on help,” said Wallace, “We're no different from Elmhurst or Moscow or Covington or any other company in the area. The only thing different is the location of the station and the color of our trucks.”
The volunteers they currently have make the breakfast a true labor of love. Many of them start setting up at 5 a.m. for the 8a.m. breakfast. On Super Bowl Sunday weekend, they serve breakfast and wings later on. Some members are there for fourteen hours that day.
Some people in kitchen came to do community service and stayed because they liked it so much. The familial atmosphere both in the kitchen and out at the tables is one that can't be overlooked.
“We're looking for more people who want to do this. You don't have to fight a fire to be a member. There's plenty of work to do. We have a good group of people in our township who support us.”
Community member Jason Van Wert says that although the fire company is a volunteer service, he believes they go above and beyond their call of duty.
“For the past five years, they've donated their grounds for my event – the Veteran's Memorial Walk/Run,” he said.
The fire company also does a $5 donation breakfast for that event, which was recently held on November 4th.
The breakfast is held the first Sunday of each month at the Jefferson Township Volunteer Fire Company at 405 Cortez Road in Jefferson Township. The cost is $8 for adults, $7 seniors, $4 for children.
The next big fundraiser will be their Super Bowl Wing Sale. They are proud of their wing sauce recipe they have perfected over the years.
Being a customer for the fundraisers is definitely a good time, but anyone who has the time and would like to contribute is always welcome.
“Anybody anywhere, if they have time and they want to volunteer, stop by their local firehouse,” said Chief Wallace.