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Community raises funds for the St. Ignatius VFD

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ST. IGNATIUS — The St. Ignatius Volunteer Fire Department kicked off their fundraising for the summer with the 26th Annual VFD Auxiliary Picnic on Saturday, June 25.

Bustling with activity, the day started off with a silent auction and a pig roast “with all the fixin’s,” a bouncy house provided for the kids nearly overrun. The main event, the live auction, started up at noon, with over 80 auction items going out to the supporting public. Raffle items were scattered throughout the event, with people winning firearms, a gift card for Rod’s Harvest Foods, a half a beef, and a whole hog cut and wrapped.

During this year’s picnic, special recognition was given to CSKT tribal elder Tony Inashola who recently passed away. A $1,000 donation was given to the fire department in his memory. 

“Tony was a great community supporter for his town and the whole reservation… even on a national stage,” the auctioneer said as attendees applauded. He added that Tony’s favorite treat was a salted nut roll. Attendees took turns bidding $100, $50 and $25 for a salted nut roll to match the generous donation made in honor of Incashola. An additional $1,250 was raised from this effort.

The annual picnic started off as a way to raise a sort of emergency fund, according to St. Ignatius Fire Chief Reese Bailey. The auxiliary money raised let firefighters purchase more gear as needed, or improvements for trucks and wildland gear that wasn’t in the tax budget. Funds raised at one of the picnics even ended up paying for a portion of the add-on to the firehall years ago. 

“I joined the fire department the week after I turned 18, and I’ve been involved with both the auxiliary and the fire department ever since,” Bailey explained. He and a committee of five others are the ones who get together each year to organize the picnic. While they rely on the firefighters to help sell tickets, the committee is the backbone of the auxiliary. 

A few years ago, the fire department began setting aside some of the funds raised at the picnic to create two $500 scholarships for St. Ignatius students, giving back to the community that helps support them. 

This year, after all the food and auction items were gone and the picnic drew to a close, approximately $20,000 was raised to support St. Ignatius’ volunteer firefighters. 

“It might’ve been a little smaller than previous years, but it was a good turnout,” Bailey said. “We had a wonderful group of people working to make everything go smoothly, and it all went really well.”

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