Firefighters don't generally like to boast about community involvement while off duty, but after raising $20,000 in 2018, they are challenging themselves to do better this year.
The Chatham-Kent Professional Firefighters Association (CKPFFA) Local 486 donated the funds to multiple local charities, with the biggest being the Chatham-Kent Hospice and Muscular Dystrophy. Roughly $14,000 was raised at the association's annual golf tournament in 2018 and the proceeds were split between the two causes.
CKPFFA President Neil Woods said improving the community is just part of the job.
"Firefighters join the department to help people," Woods said. "By continuing that help through volunteers and charities is another way we can give back to our community, so that's why we do it."
According to Woods, Canadian firefighters have supported muscular dystrophy charities for almost 70 years. He said over $3 million is raised annually to research the disease countrywide and locally they have raised $250,000 over the last few years.
Woods said the biggest fundraiser is the annual golf tournament and in 2018 they made more than usual so they decided to help out another organization.
"Last year we wanted to split the proceeds so we could help the local hospice because we knew they were in need of some funding," Woods said. "We are probably going to split it again and give some to the hospice. We seem to be getting higher on the amounts were are raising for muscular dystrophy so it is nice to put some of that back into the community."
The association does more than just raise money, according to Woods. He said they do a lot of volunteer work both locally with Habitat for Humanity and even overseas to help others in need. Woods added the group has done calendars to help kids with cancer or have been burned to attend camps with doctors so they can feel like normal kids while still be safely monitored by trained professionals.
"The thing about firefighters is we are proud people. We don't put it out into the public a lot that we've done all these things but we have started to show it a little bit more," Woods said. "We got into the job to help people and we will continue to help people in whatever way we can and I guess that's the easiest way to say it. We don't do it for thanks from the public. We do it because we want to and that's just us."
Woods said this year's events will include helping out Chatham-Kent Children's Services during Christmas, providing labour for the Habitat for Humanity build and the annual golf tournament on May 29, just to name a few.