Thirty years of fundraising for fire safety education
Fifty cents was the price of a hotdog and a soda, when the Brian David Ash Memorial Fire Prevention Fund held its first fundraiser in September of 1986. We started out with a little hot dog cart at the side of Waldbaums on the Chamberlain Highway in Meriden.
The store had just opened, and we were given the opportunity to use their location to raise funds for fire safety education. Waldbaums had provided all the food, soda, and signage. Roberta Ash had secured many volunteers to assist throughout the weekend, while she spent the whole weekend soliciting hot dogs. "Hot dog and a soda only 50 cents to help fire safety education," she would yell over and over to everyone who came by. Thousands of hot dogs and for years later we continue at Waldbaums till they closed in 2002. We were very fortunate that we were able to move to the newly built Stop and Shop on East Main Street, the following year. Now Roberta and friends yell "Hot Dog, soda, and chips $2." The menu and inflation have grown. We now have added additional fundraising, which includes theme baskets, and we sell donated gift certificates as well. The Amber Alert is also at the fundraiser.
This year will mark the 13th anniversary that we have been doing this. Oh yes, Roberta and many friends will be back selling hot dogs again. This fundraiser has grown to be a Meriden tradition, and Roberta has gained great fame for thousands of hours raising funds for fire safety, following the death of her son Brian, in a fire in 1983.
Over the past 30 years many people have volunteered in many ways. They have assisted in getting donations, making signs, preparing raffle baskets, selling hot dogs, and just too many things to list all. Over the year’s hundreds of merchants and people have made cash and non-monetary contributions. We can't begin to thank the countless number of merchants and businesses who have contributed, and without their help, we would never be as successful as we have been.
Roberta could not ever have imagined we would have continued this fund as long as we have. We are deeply indebted to the scores of people who have come out to help us, and volunteered their time for this effort. Many volunteers who stared with us and have almost grown to be family.
This event has definitely grown to be a Meriden tradition. This year we even produced a large banner commemorating this anniversary, and the city approved and placed it over West Main Street to celebrate the occasion.
Since its inception, we have donated over $100,000 to the Meriden Fire Department which has been used for Fire Prevention Week, The Smoke House, movies, I Pads, fire prevention literature, just to name a few.
This year's fundraiser is on Sept. 9-11 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Super Stop and Shop on East Main and Broad Streets in Meriden. We look forward to seeing you at this year's fundraiser.