Last year, when Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast, Tarkington Volunteer Fire Department was forced to cancel its annual fundraisers through the rest of the year, including its barbecue, the biggest annual fundraiser.
“As we fast approach the time for our annual barbecue and auction fund-raising event, please know your fire department is in desperate need of your help and support,” wrote Chief Paul Gregory in post to social media. “Fire calls, motor vehicle crashes and medical calls – none of these stopped coming in. Hundreds of our family, friends and neighbors have been affected by such calls for service, right here in our beloved home – Tarkington Prairie.”
As a result of the demand on the department, this year’s annual barbecue fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 29, has taken on extra significance. The fundraiser, which will be held at the SH 321 fire station, will start at 10 a.m. with a noon auction. Local businesses and individuals have donated items that include coolers, TVs, Tarkington Longhorns gear, an assortment of lottery tickets, air conditioner tune-up service, chainsaw, weed cutter, Yeti cups and tool sets.
All money raised from the fundraiser will support the fire department’s budget for insurance, fuel, equipment, training, upkeep on apparatus and the department’s two fire stations on SH 321 and FM 787.
Tickets for the barbecue plates have not been determined at this time, the chief added, because prices cannot be accurately tallied until the briskets for the event are picked up this Thursday. Meal prices, however, will be in keeping with other barbecue fundraisers.
While Tarkington VFD relies on grants from Texas A & M and the Texas Forest Service, every year there is a significant shortfall, which is why the annual fundraiser and Fill the Boot events are held.
“On each call, we burn fuel. Maintenance, such as oil changes, tires, and brakes, of fire apparatus is very costly and very specific as to who is certified repair them. Our lifesaving equipment per firefighter (helmet, hood, coat, pants, boots, gloves, air pack and thermal imaging device) costs approximately $10,000 per firefighter,” Gregory said.
The chief continued, “Please, we, your Tarkington Volunteer Fire Department, the First Responders to you – need your help. Please, seriously consider and find any way possible to help us raise funds and make this year’s annual fundraising event a huge success like none other before. We have all the heart in the world to respond, when called upon. It’s the funding to keep the trucks running and to keep our life saving equipment up to standards that is the problem. Those things take money – something we are fast falling very short of.”
If you would like to make a cash donation to Tarkington VFD or are interested in donating items or purchasing tickets for the barbecue and auction fundraiser on Sept. 29, please call the fire station at 281-592-7800.