Residents of southern York County can dine out for a good cause Thursday.

Eighteen local restaurants participating in the Feast for Firefighters fundraiser have agreed donate up to a quarter of their proceeds from the day’s receipts to aid the volunteer fire departments in York Village, York Beach and Kittery.

Raffle tickets also will be on sale throughout the week, with a drawing on Sunday at the fire station in York Beach. The fire departments will use the proceeds to improve their fire and rescue equipment.

The feast is the brainchild of Matthew McTighe, a volunteer firefighter in York Village who hopes the fundraiser will expand in the future and become an annual event.

McTighe modeled the event after national fundraisers like Dining Out For Life, which benefits organizations that fight AIDS. McTighe said there is a “desperate need” for new fire equipment.

“The town budgets cover basic operating costs. But people don’t realize that individual equipment that we carry on our person or on trucks is often paid out of pocket,” said McTighe. He described how volunteer firefighters might have to buy a new pair of boots if the only ones available do not fit properly and are not safe to wear to a call.

The York Fire Department intends to put its share of the proceeds toward a fire-rescue saw, which costs about $1,400. A third thermal imager, a $7,000 item, is also on the wish list.

“We really need to have one in each truck. It’s a valuable piece of equipment that can save lives,” said McTighe.

McTighe said restaurants should see more patrons on Thursday, and the increase in revenue will offset the portion they’ll donate.

“This fundraiser will be good for local businesses, it helps the fire departments and it’s easy for the community to participate. Individuals don’t have to write checks or attend black-tie dinners. They just go out and eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, like they might do anyway,” he said.

MJ Bailey, who owns The Stolen Menu Cafe in York, said she’s happy to help.

“These volunteers give up a very precious part of their time to serve,” she said. “I’m happy to be involved in anything to support them and help them buy equipment. I’m a big community person.”

Marty Kahler, owner of Chef’s Cove Cafe in Kittery, said, “I’m hopeful the event will be a success and we’ll have a good turnout to help the Kittery Fire Association and all the good things they do for our community.”

“The more people that come here, the more money we can donate to the cause,” said Lucia Velasco-Evans, owner of Lucia’s Kitchen in Cape Neddick.

The Feast for Firefighters is sponsored by Internal Security Associates and Kennebunk Savings. A list of the 18 participating restaurants is available at feastforfirefighters.com. Donations also can be made online.

 

Staff Writer Sophie Gould can be contacted at 791-6354 or at: [email protected]