LEWISTOWN - Many area organizations and service providers rely heavily on fundraising as a way to enhance their contributions to a community. Fame EMS in Lewistown is no different.
In fact, Fame has come up with a relatively new kind of fundraising event for this area: a meat raffle. The ambulance service has done two of them so far and is planning a third, scheduled for March 2 beginning at 5 p.m. at the Lewistown Recreation Center.
"This type of fundraiser has been around for a while, mostly out of the area, though," stated Eric Howell, a Fame paramedic. "We have an agreement with Peachey's Food and Locker of Belleville. They put various meat packages together, we buy them and then raffle them off in one evening at $1 a ticket. Some of the packages include hot dogs with ketchup and mustard, spare ribs with sauce, various kinds of steaks, chicken and hamburger packages. They get a little more elaborate the further into the rounds you go."
Ticket buyers are eligible for 12 rounds of drawings in the $1 category. "For that chance that you buy, there are five prizes for that round," Howell said. "Then there are two bonus rounds at $2 a ticket. You can participate in every round for as low as $16."
Alan Sunderland, paramedic supervisor, said there is no charge for meat raffle participants.
"Just by walking in the door, you get to eat and drink for free," he said.
The light meal included in the evening usually consists of a soup and sandwich, along with soft drinks.
In addition to the meat raffle drawings, paramedic Bart Ewing said Fame also sells small games of chance tickets throughout the evening with instant winners. Those who participate in those drawings are also eligible for half a hog that will be raffled off at the end of the night.
Ewing stressed that the meat packages raffled off aren't your run-of-the-mill entrees.
"They make up all kinds of unique packages for us," he said. "Anything from steaks, ham, ham loaf, Icelandic haddock, whole chickens, chicken leg and thigh packs, breakfast meats including sausage, bacon and scrapple. It's quite a variety."
Howell said the March 2 meat raffle will be Fame's third.
"It continuously gets bigger, but we feel there's still a whole lot of people we're not touching with it," he added.
Ewing said money raised through the meat raffles goes back into the many community programs Fame sponsors or participates in on a yearly basis.
"We use it to help support events such as the Halloween Parade, Kid Connection, school programs, Safe Trick-or-Treat Night, the Ice Festival, Relay for Life and expenses incurred with our Kops-For-Kids involvement."
Howell added that some of the money is also used for basic supplies at Fame's Valley Street station, including kitchen utensils, sheets, pillow cases and laundry detergent.
"It all goes back into the service we put out," he noted.
Sunderland said even though Fame EMS has been around for quite a while, there are a lot of people locally who don't realize the scope of service it provides.
"We responded to 9,091 calls last year," he reported. "We're much larger than anyone thinks. We cover almost all of Mifflin County, provide mutual aid to Juniata and Snyder counties, and do some responding in Centre and Huntingdon counties.
Ewing said Fame provides primary ambulance, basic life support and advanced Life support services to Lewistown, Burnham and Juniata Terrace boroughs and Decatur, Derry and Granville townships.
"The rest of the county and surrounding counties, we provide ALS services," he added.
As for equipment, Fame rolls out six ambulances, two paratransit vans and one rehab unit. It also provides a strike team that responds to emergencies. Fame also recently opened a sub-station at the Mifflin County Industrial Park in Granville Township which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information on the meat raffle, call Fame EMS at 248-5553 or visit the company's website at www.fameems.org.