The holiday spirit in South Brunswick was truly embodied by the Kendall Park First Aid and Rescue Squad last month, as they displayed their generosity for another squad in need while at the same time being aided by an altruistic township business.
KPFARS donated a used ambulance last month to the EMS squad in Moonachie, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The donation also included some basic EMS equipment and supplies for Moonachie, which lost its ambulance during the storm.
"Their entire community was wiped out. They lost buildings, ambulances, supplies, and their police and fire departments got wiped out when their levy broke," said KPFARS Captain Ray Weis. "We have agreements with other squads on more local responses, but we all try to help each other. There were people who needed an ambulance so we try to do our best to help. If the tables were turned they would be there to help us."
As the ambulance is now being put to good use in Moonachie, squad members said the donation was part of what being a volunteer is all about, by helping those in need during their darkest hours.
"In a bad situation like Sandy, it's in our nature to help each other. We usually help in our own community but this situation allowed us to help our colleagues in another community by going beyond our borders for a bigger cause," said squad member Rich Goselin. "We had more than they did and they were in need, so it's in our nature to help others in volunteer organizations."
While first aid squad volunteers give their time without thought of getting anything in return, the squad was the beneficiary of a holiday gift from a local business focused on giving back to the community. The squad recently received a $2,500 donation from Dayton Toyota to aid with the to the squad's New Road facility. With a matching company donation, Dayton Toyota was able to donate $5,000 to the squad.
"One of our four dealership goals is community service. Our associates see this goal as our opportunity to give back to the community that supports us," said Dayton Toyota President David Nappa. "We have a group of associates called the 'Signature Team' that review various community projects and organizations that we can support."
Nappa said after the project offered the perfect opportunity to give back to the community. Dayton Toyota's previous donations to local groups includes the South Brunswick Food Pantry, South Brunswick High School, the Dayton Village Citizen's Coalition, the Hugs for Brady Foundation, the South Brunswick Public Library, and dozens of others.
"The associates of Dayton Toyota feel it is very important to support the community that has supported us for the last 53 years," Nappa said. "Additionally, most of our customers and associates live and/or work in the immediate area and benefit from the organizations we support. Finally, the challenging economy has made it more difficult for local organizations to find funding while the number of individuals needing support from these organizations only seems to increase. For all these reasons, Dayton Toyota and its associates always have and always will give back to our community."
The renovations to the KPFARS facility included a roof replacement due to leaking that regularly flooded the ambulance bay, reconfigured bay doors allowing its newer model ambulances to fit inside, a small room to allow for cots so volunteers can sleep when serving during overnight hours and emergencies, and modern bathrooms with a shower so volunteers can reduce risk when exposed to blood borne pathogens.
The squad is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise funds for the renovations, but not at the cost of their normal fund raising to keep the squad running. Township first aid squads rely on drives each year from residents to fund the operating costs, while the township also donates $45,000 to each squad. However, the astronomical expenses for insurance, supplies and maintenance for the ambulances means donations are always in desperate need. The average cost for an emergency requiring Basic Life Support runs $700, while the cost for Advanced Life Support runs $1,400.
"This was our first major donation and we're hoping other businesses will see what Dayton Toyota did and get involved," Goselin said. "We don't want to cannibalize our regular fund raising drive, but we want to use this to reach out to other business in South Brunswick and get support for our capital campaign. Our squad building is about 50 years old and it had major leaks and other problems with health and safety issues. It gives a lot of pride to the whole organization to be operational and efficient. The renovation was something we talked about for years and finally got going."