PORTHILL — “So ... how does one thank our Hall Mountain Volunteer Firefighters/First Responders?” said Justine Williams, president of the HMVFA Ladies Auxiliary. “These men and women donate their time to serve and protect us when emergency needs arise.”
The volunteer firefighters are honored each year on the last Saturday of September with an appreciation potluck.
This year it landed on Sept. 28, but the HMVFA Auxiliary wanted to take it one step further — beyond the large array of home-cooked and baked food, beyond the tables lines with silent auction items donated by members and businesses, and beyond the raffles. They wanted to truly show their love and appreciation for the dedication of the volunteers.
They found a way.
With hands and hearts, they created handmade quilts, each personalized to the firefighters themselves.
“We presented them with quilts as a reminder that we as a community know that they train on their own time off from their jobs or work, and sacrifice time spent away from their own families, to help us,” said Williams. “We also want to thank their families for sharing them as they jump in the trucks when there is a fire or accident, or when they respond to emergency medical calls.”
When the quilts were revealed at the Appreciation Potluck, the firefighters were surprised and emotionally touched, remarking on their beauty and attention to detail. The quilts had been lovely made by Williams and members of the auxiliary. They boasted the Hall Mountain Fire logo, embroidered by the far North Logo Shop, who volunteered this service.
Hall Mountain Fire Chief Brad Lowther was completely surprised by the quilt he was given.
“It is very humbling,” said Lowther. “We appreciate being appreciated. It is pretty awesome.”
Williams spoke about Lowther and the department’s respect for him. She said that she once overheard a firefighter stating that they would “follow Brad into any fire, because of his leadership.”
“As the President of the Auxiliary, I thought that was a high compliment,” said Williams.
The event was a success, with the fire hall packed with people who turned up to show their support, bringing food that lines the tables for the potluck. People bidded generously on the many items and gift certificates donated by individuals, as well as businesses.
They drew the winners for the raffles that had been held for a handmade quilt by Cindi Tindall and a Henry 45/70 Rifle. Dee Crane was the chosen winner of the quilt, and Keith Fairchild won the rifle.
“We as first responders just want to do what we can, when we can, while we can — to make somebody’s bad day a little better,” said Hall Mountain Firefighter Marty Steinhagen at the end of the day. “It does tear at you — little by little — but seeing each hand placed stitch, in something made just for you ... heals those tears right up.”