LACKAWAXEN - Lackawaxen Township Fire Commission wishes to make clear that fund-raising efforts by the recently formed Volunteer Firefighters Trust Foundation (VFTF) is not in any way related to the Commission's fund drive, said John Kerkowski, Commission President.
   Kerkowski said that there was extensive discussion about this at the Commission's meeting on March 20th.
   The VFTF, which uses a Hawley post office box, was founded by John Barnett, of the Lakeville area. Their first fund-raising appeal went out this winter to residents in the Hawley area. In a prior article, Barnett said he has registered with the state of Pennsylvania as a nonprofit organization, for the purpose of collecting funds to assist local volunteer fire departments.
    The Lackawaxen Township Fire Commission was organized for participating fire companies within Lackawaxen Township to work together and find ways to streamline expenses. Lackawaxen Ambulance has also become a member of the group. The Commission sends out two joint appeal letters a year- one in the Spring and a follow-up reminder letter in the Fall- to benefit Forest Volunteer, Central Volunteer and Lackawaxen Volunteer fire departments (Greeley later chose not to participate).
    "With mailing of our Spring consolidated fund drive less than two weeks away, we are concerned that some residents might be confused by the actions of the VFTF," Kerkowski said. While they are not aware that the VFTF has done any fund-raising in Lackawaxen Township, he said that some of their fire company members were questioned by residents who read the initial article about VFTF in The News Eagle, if there was any connection.
    Lackawaxen Township Fire Commission is an IRS approved 501 (c) (3) organization. All funds collected, less the cost of printing and mailing, are then equally distributed to those departments.
     "We are a totally volunteer organization and the fund drive is handled by the Commission with support from the members of our respective departments," said Kerkowski. "It was started as a way to minimize duplication in the fund raising efforts of the Township's volunteer fire departments and thereby save both money and manpower in the process. Now in its third year, we believe it has been quite successful in that regard."
   The consolidated fund drive was able to donate $2,500 more to each of its member departments in 2013 than it did in its first year, when they each received $12,000.  Kerkowski said that hope to exceed that figure in 2014 and they hope that it would not be lessened due to fund-raising efforts by the new organization.