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Volunteer fire departments feel impact of COVID-19

McGaheysville and Elkton both had to cancel their weekly BINGO fundraisers due to the spread of COVID-19.
McGaheysville and Elkton both had to cancel their weekly BINGO fundraisers due to the spread of COVID-19.(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 6:19 PM EDT
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As businesses feel the financial impacts of COVID-19, so too do local volunteer fire departments.

For more than a month, no one has gotten a bingo at the Elkton Volunteer Fire Company bingo hall off of South East Side Hwy.

Weekly bingo games normally happen at the center to benefit the firefighters, but have been cancelled since March 13 due to the spread of the coronavirus.

The bingo games play a large role in fundraising for the Elkton Volunteer Fire Company. Chief Jeremy Holloway, of Rockingham County Fire and Rescue, said the change will make an impact on the volunteer community.

"For the last month now, if you haven't noticed, they haven't been able to do this type of fundraising," Chief Holloway said. "It's going to make a major impact we feel coming up on being able to support financially in their area."

Chief Holloway said many volunteer fire departments around the county use fundraisers like dinners, bingo games, and lawn parties to help pay for equipment the departments may need.

"The proceeds from those programs help pay for pay for fuel, pay for equipment, keep the utility bills down at the station, and being able to provide that service for the community," Chief Holloway said.

He said without those fundraisers, the departments will still be able to provide the same amount of service, but they need to get creative, and some equipment repair may have to be put on hold.

Chief Holloway said many departments, such as Timberville, Mcghayesville, and Elkton, have started planning their annual summer events.

He's asking with Gov. Ralph Northam's executive order currently set to end on June 10 that everyone support those events to help make up what was lost over the spring.

"I know the departments are still working on summer time events and being able to provide those fundraising opportunities," Chief Holloway said. " I've got a little bit of concern about how many people are gonna come out and support that, but these organizations still need our support."

The latest modeling data from UVA Health projected that even a sharp return to activity as late as June could cause another spike in COVID-19 cases over the summer, but it showed that social distancing measures so far have been working in Virginia.

McGaheysville's lawn party is currently still set for July 30.

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