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Virtual rifle raffle being held by local fire department struggling to raise money during pandemic

LOWER BURRELL, Pa. — For local fire volunteer fire departments, the holiday season usually means holding events like fish fries and holiday parties to bring in money to keep departments afloat.

However, this year, because of the pandemic, departments like the Lower Burrell Volunteer Fire Company are thinking outside the box.

“Our fundraising has pretty much been cut down to the bare minimum,” Shane Morris, Lower Burrell assistant fire chief, said.

Because of the restrictions in place, Morris said the department is having a rifle raffle.

“We’re not allowed to do fish fries. It’s hard for us to do bingos. With the restrictions, we can only fit half the capacity of what we’re allowed, so it’s kind of pointless to even try to do one of those,” Morris said.

That’s why the idea of what’s called a sure-tip raffle made the most sense. Raffle donations of $20 can be made online. Then, people wait for the drawing.

“It’s all virtual. There’s no meeting people once it’s sold. They go to the distributor and they pick it up,” Morris said.

One winner will receive an AR-15. The winner will have to meet federal requirements and pass a background check.

Morris said the financial support is needed. Without it, it could mean life or death for the people the department serves.

“I mean, if you don’t have a fire department, it could be catastrophic to your family,” Morris said.

The money made from raffles, like the rifle raffle, means better equipment and more staff.

Morris said this is the reason why the choice was made to raffle rifles instead of another product:

“A lot of other things are hard to come by. Everyone’s just buying everything for Christmas. We tried doing a tool set, and just finding one tool set right now is difficult, so guns seemed to be the best way to go,” Morris said.