ENFIELD — College scholarships. New equipment purchases. Fire station expansions. Food pantry donations.
The Howland Volunteer Fire Department does what it can to avoid using taxpayer funds, keep itself operational and contribute to the community, Fire Chief Phil Dawson said.
That’s why Dawson was pleased Thursday that as many as 150 people attended one of the department’s biggest fundraisers, a New Year’s Eve dance at the VFW hall on Wednesday night.
“Everything we do in one form or another goes back to the community,” Dawson said Thursday. “Whether it goes to the food pantry or to expanding the station so we have more square footage for training, it’s money that the community doesn’t have to provide.”
Run by about 15 volunteers, the dance featured a small buffet and was unusually crowded for an event held in the middle of the week, said Dawson, who is also Lincoln’s fire chief.
A count of the money raised was not immediately available Thursday.
Portions of the proceeds, Dawson said, likely will go toward the food pantry at Howland United Methodist Church and to the department’s college scholarship funds.
Located at 37 Coffin St., the pantry typically feeds about 75 to 100 families a month. It serves Burlington, Enfield, Howland, LaGrange, Milo, Passadumkeag and Seboeis.
Firefighters also might use the dance money to fund a station expansion, Dawson said. The department’s 3,500-square-foot, three-bay garage and meeting space is loaded with equipment, including an ambulance from Penobscot Valley Hospital of Lincoln that helps serve the Lincoln Lakes region.
Depending on how much the addition would cost, firefighters would like to see their station expand 900 to 1,000 square feet for training purposes, Dawson said. The expansion effort has been going for several years.
Previous fundraising efforts have helped save the department’s towns about $5,000 of the $25,000 cost of a new Jaws of Life rescue tool set, Dawson said. The department’s 35 volunteers serve Enfield, Edinburg, Howland and Maxfield and often provide mutual aid to Seboeis.
“The community usually supports us very well,” Dawson said. “We are all taxpayers. We just want to help out and do what we can to stretch the dollar.”
Anyone interested in joining the department, assisting its fundraising or making a donation can call the Howland Town Office at 732-3513.