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Fire department volunteers serve up good time at Schroeder Hall

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Nov. 7, 2010 at 5:07 a.m.

Randy Schneider weighs brisket in a container as he helps prepare to-go orders of barbecue during the Schroeder Volunteer Fire Department's annual fundraiser Sunday at the historic Schroeder Hall. Schneider said that about 900 pounds of brisket were prepared for the event, and between eat-in and carryout plates about 750 plates were sold.

SCHROEDER - If a fundraiser is at the second-oldest dance hall in Texas, it's bound to be a good time.

Just ask the almost 150 people who attended the sixth annual Schroeder Volunteer Fire Department Fundraiser on Sunday afternoon at Schroeder Dance Hall.

Outside the hall, the smell of homemade southern-cooked brisket and mashed potatoes wafted through the air, while inside, auctioneer Gary Jarzombek could be heard hastily elevating prices on items up for sale.

"Do we have $150, give me $150, I see $150, how about $200, I got $200, do I hear $260, got $260, let me see $275..." he said, seemingly in one breath.

The annual event, organized by fundraiser chairwoman Kathryn Ormsby - who also serves as one of three female responders for Schroeder's fire station and is married to Fire Chief Larry Ormsby - was held Sunday to help raise about $15,000 to offset the station's operating expenses and fire equipment maintenance costs.

"It's a lot of money to pay for our station, and the equipment. And the diesel and gasoline to fuel the engines can be very expensive," Ormbsy said.

As organizer of the event, Ormbsy and fellow members of the Volunteer Fire Department, made sure there were more than a few opportunities for attendees to spend money at the fundraiser. A country store, silent auction, live auction, lottery and raffle ticket sales, and $7 food plates were a few of the major monetary generators.

But fundraiser guests were gladly handing over their cash because they know the importance the fire station has on their quality of life in Schroeder.

"A few years ago, I couldn't get fire insurance because I lived more than five miles from a fire department. Now, I can get it because of our fire department," fundraiser volunteer Jana Martin said.

Martin assisted with the the country store operations, and spoke passionately about the importance of having a locally operating fire department.

"It's something the community truly needs," Martin said.

Only six years ago, Schroeder was dependent on Goliad Volunteer Fire Department to respond to emergency fire calls, which meant in some cases, response times were longer, and insurance companies weren't always willing to write fire insurance for homes.

And when the Schroeder community decided to move forward with its own fire station, Ormsby said it was the first Schroeder Volunteer Fire Department Fundraiser that led to the construction of the current firehouse.

"When we started, there was nothing on that fire station property but a dream," Ormsby said. "This fundraiser built that fire station. That, and our blood, sweat and tears."

Some of the bigger items auctioned off at the fundraiser included a handmade ice chest built by Schroeder Volunteer Fire Department President Ray Bednorz, which sold for $320. Other items included hog hunting packages, a Dallas Cowboys 50th anniversary Miller Lite grill, handmade quilts, personalized handbags by Chit Chat and Jewels, boutique items from Pizazz, deer corn, gun cases and other hunting items. More than 900 pounds of brisket and 200 pounds of sausage was sold on about 750 food plates totaling more than $5,000. And in addition to the hundreds of items for sale at the country store and silent auction, there were 79 items registered for the live auction.

At the end the end of the night, Ormsby said the fundraiser collected more than $10,000, and they were still counting.

"We are proud of the fire department, if you can't tell. We will literally walk through fire for each other," she said.



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