By Steve Klamkin WPRO News
On a recent May evening, Providence firefighters attended a cookout to support the Providence Canteen, the all-volunteer group that provides coffee and comfort to first responders and victims.
Members of the group roll up to fires and other emergencies in specially outfitted vehicles to offer help in an hour of need. Now, about to lose its primary sponsor, it’s the Canteen itself that is in need of support, and has launched a fund-raising effort on its webpage, providencecanteen.com
“Money is drying up, we had a real busy winter and we went through a lot of money,” said Paul O’Rourke, President of the Special Signal Fire Association, which has run the Canteen trucks for 47 years. He added that the group’s sponsor, a fire restoration company, was refocusing its efforts in Massachusetts, and the Canteen was looking for new sponsorship.
“They do most of their business up in Massachusetts, and we just got the notice last week that they’re probably going to be selling the building and we’re looking for a new sponsor to take over,” O’Rourke said.
He said the Canteen trucks routinely roll to fires and other emergencies in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“We were at the World Trade Center, we were there for four days. The Station Nightclub fire. Boston, where the two firefighters got killed (in the Back Bay in 2014). We were there for 11 hours and we fed the Boston Fire Department.
He’s asking for donations to keep the Canteen operating.
“Donations, that’s what the whole thing runs on, donations. No city money involved or anything like that.”
He said donations can be made through the group’s website, or by mail to:
Special Signal Fire Association
P.O. Box 25009
Providence, RI 02905