Tag Archives: Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation

Firing Up Westport’s New Fundraising Gala

When Westport firefighters began planning their 1st-ever fundraising gala, they did not have to look far.

Autostrada — the very cool club/classic car spot/event space — is right next to fire headquarters, on the Post Road.

The result is an exciting new event on the local calendar. The whiskey tasting on April 19 includes silent auction items far beyond the usual, plus a DJ, great food and drinks.

And it’s put on great folks, for several excellent causes.

The Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation includes all 64 men and women in the department. For more than a decade, they’ve hosted a Santa Run and golf tournament.

Proceeds benefit soup kitchens, scholarships, and — most recently, the Bridgeport Rescue Mission (with a donation of more than 800 winter coats).

Westport is indebted to our firefighters for keeping us safe, and protecting our lives and property.

Many of us don’t realize how invested they — even those who live far away — are in helping our community.

Now they’ve targeted another important cause for their April 19 whiskey tasting-and-more.

“Bed-shakers” are devices that are installed on beds of hearing impaired children. They warn sleeping youngsters who cannot hear smoke alarms, or see flashing lights, of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Bed-shaker smoke fire and carbon dioxide alarm system.

The Uniformed Firefighters’ goal is to provide one of the devices for every hearing impaired child in Westport. Eventually, they’d like to expand it to the elderly, and beyond our town.

Proceeds from the gala will also help the Hole in the Wall Gang, and provide cancer screening for firefighters. Carcinogens in smoke, chemicals in their uniforms and diesel fuel in trucks are all occupational hazards. One firefighter recently died of cancer; 2 others under the age of 35 have been diagnosed with it.

Sure, a whiskey tasting is a bit outside the WUFCF comfort zone.

“In the past we’ve stuck with what we know,” says president Rob Lenois. “But Gioel and Ronni” — Molinari, the owners of Autostrada — “are right next door. They’re really excited to host us. It’s been a great collaboration.”

Lenois adds, “If people haven’t been there, they’ll be amazed at the venue. They’ve got a bar, an espresso machine, and all those amazing cars.”

Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation president Rob Lenois. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The evening includes — in addition to whiskey provided by Greens Farms Spirit Shop, and food catered by On the Marc — a DJ, photographer and door gifts.

Plus auction items seldom seen at a fundraiser, like estate planning for 2 from attorney Joseph Maya, a half-day tattoo session with Rebel & Rose, a “King for a Day” package from Hammer & Nails men’s grooming shop, and a year of trash pickup from Malone’s Refuse.

There’s also a diamond necklace from JL Rocks, a month of services and gift basket from Moxie Salon, Guess watches, yoga and spin classes, and over a dozen restaurant gift certificates.

It’s a new, special event, at a new place, for new causes.

But one thing will be old: fire engines.

In keeping with Autostrada’s “classic vehicle” theme, the Fire Department will show off Westport’s old Engine #9, and a fully restored 1918 fire truck from Westbrook.

They’ll be parked outdoors, just a few feet from the fire station.

The whiskey will be waiting inside.

(For tickets to the WUFCF whiskey tasting, click here or use the QR code below. For more information or to donate, click here. To become a sponsor or provide an auction item, email foundation@wufcf.org, or call 203-341-5179.)

Santa Fires Up His Truck

The Westport Fire Department is always busy.

Fighting fires is a small part of their job. They respond to accidents and medical calls all over town, and on I-95 and the Merritt. They conduct safety checks at homes, offices, stores and restaurants. They help mitigate blight situations.

Somehow, Westport firefighters also find time to be Santa Claus.

Since 2014 (except 2020, COVID Christmas) the WFD brings joy to hundreds of children throughout town.

On 6 evenings every December, Santa trades his sleigh for a fire truck. He and his elves deliver gifts to dozens of homes.

Santa popped out of his fire truck, to delight these youngsters (and one oldster).

It’s all for a great cause: raising money for the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation.

SPOILER ALERT: If you’re reading this with a child who believes in Santa Claus, tell him or her to go count the ornaments on the tree, or make fruitcake or something. Keep reading for the back-story details of the Santa Run.

Families register for the event. They have to be quick: This year’s reached capacity in less than 2 hours.

Parents provide and wrap the gifts (small ones). They leave them in a discreet spot — the bushes, in a tree, wherever — for Santa and his firefighter elves to pick up as they walk toward the house.

Over the course of 6 nights they fire up (ho ho ho) the truck, and visit all those homes, between 5 and 8 p.m. They publicize the route, so families can track Santa as he nears their house.

When Santa visited Caccamo Lane last week, 15 children received presents. Ten are shown here. The others were off opening their gifts. (Photo/Susan Ford)

Last week’s count was 72 homes. This Thursday, Friday and Saturday, they’ll hit many, many more.

That’s a ton of kids (and presents). And some nice donations by their parents too ($35 per child) to the Firefighters Charitable Foundation.

The non-profit gives back almost immediately. Among their projects: an annual Santa event at the Senior Center.

Westport’s Department of Human Services invites families in need to the Senior Center. The Big Guy arrives on a fire truck.

He hands out gifts — provided by Saugatuck Financial, which purchases and wraps them — to youngsters. This year’s event was Tuesday afternoon.

But that was not the only engagement on the firefighters’ calendar that day. Earlier in the morning at fire headquarters they sorted, bagged and counted 1,353 winter coats donated by Westporters for the “Share the Warmth” drive.

They — plus many more mittens and hats, totaling nearly a ton in all — were loaded into a trailer, and delivered to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.

Westport Fire Department and Bridgeport Rescue Mission officials, at Tuesday’s donation.

Our Fire Department is special. Now everyone — in Westport, Bridgeport and the North Pole — knows why.

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