Ladies Auxiliary: Supporting Firefighting Efforts in Bird-in-Hand

As early as 1924 the Fire Company realized the worth of hosting fundraising meals because of the money they bring in and also as a way to get the community involved. The firefighters know that working together for a common cause creates a wonderful sense of community spirit and pride. On September 2, 1924 a committee of five ladies was appointed to plan a supper to benefit the Fire Company. Serving on that first committee were Mrs. Irene Morrin, Mrs. E.E. Brubaker, Mrs. J.H. Weaver, Mrs. Park Houghton, and Mrs. Harry Overley. The 50th Anniversary Celebration booklet states: This appointment was the beginning of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, which through the years has loyally made its contribution to the common good.


Twenty years after that first benefit meal, the Hand-in-Hand Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary formally organized on September 19, 1944. The first officers were Edna Overley, president; Mildred Leed, vice-president; Celia Nagle, secretary; and Margaret Weaver, treasurer. The initial group had 23 members and their meetings were held the third Tuesday of each month.


Some of their earliest activities were selling blocks at 15 cents each to build an addition to the fire hall, entertaining the Lancaster County Firemen’s Association in 1945, and hosting bake sales and spring and fall dinners. But equally important in the early years of the Auxiliary were the activities that the Social Committee planned for everyone to enjoy at the meetings. Bingo, guessing games, hat socials, hymn sings, recitals, recitations, and poem readings were popular. In a later decade, the ladies also took part in the tug-of-war at the County Firemen Convention and the bucket brigade contests at the New Holland Fair. Over the years the ladies went on bus trips and got together in their homes and in restaurants for Christmas parties.


The ladies in the Auxiliary have been creative through the years in their fundraising efforts. The tradition of serving meals to the community to insure an annual income was begun in 1948, although they were not scheduled on a regular basis like they are today. In 1979 they bought a custom-built food trailer for $2,797 that they took to area sales. They have also served banquets, wedding receptions, holiday family dinners, and corporate employee picnics. Other fundraising events have been chicken corn soup, chicken patty dinners, bean soup, doughnut and baked goods sales, toy shows, Tupperware and Pampered Chef parties, housing chickens, and sales of T-shirts, shampoo, and Easter flowers.


The Auxiliary is also service minded. In 1946 they knit sweaters for the Salvation Army and organized spelling bees at East Lampeter High School. They also supported the County Cancer Drive and local needy families. In addition to their impressive fundraising for the Fire Company (their total tally at the time of their 50th anniversary banquet was $90,470!), they assist by housecleaning the fire hall to keep the facility in tiptop shape.


Presently the Auxiliary’s main fundraisers are their ham dinners in April and October that started in 1965. Tourists and locals alike enjoy delicious ham, green beans, buttered potatoes, applesauce, pepper cabbage, pies and cupcakes. They also organize a community yard sale in the fire hall at the end of April.


Working together for a common cause unifies the members of the Auxiliary. They become friends as they serve food and drink to the firefighters at major fires, enjoy a June picnic with all the Fire Company families, help with food at Family Days, decorate the fire hall for Christmas, and give thanks at the annual Fire Company Turkey Supper.


The phrase, “A little help from our friends,” describes the relationship between the Ladies Auxiliary and the Fire Company except that the Auxiliary is a big help, not just a little help. The ladies have done a terrific job over the years of supporting the work of the firefighters. Now in 2010 they as an organization are in the process of redefining themselves. They are considering opening their membership to community men as well as women. There are men who are very interested in working with various Fire Company projects, but these men are not firefighters. An idea is to bring all of the fundraisers under the umbrella of an expanded Auxiliary in which both men and women would be involved.


The Ladies Auxiliary has played a significant part in raising money to fund both large and small projects of the Fire Company.

1947 – Curtains for the fire hall

1948 – Donation for new hose

1952 – Stove for kitchen

1961 – Donation for new engine

1964 – Water heater

1965 – Donation for new engine

1972 – Kitchen equipment and cabinets for

1972 – Building project

1975 – Air conditioning for the dining room

1976 – Acre of adjoining land bought from the railroad company

1981 – Donation for new engine ($15,000)

1983 – Attack 4-1 ($23,778)

1988 – Donation for new tanker ($15,000)

1989 – Kitchen equipment and flooring

1990 – Dining room renovation

1991 – Donation for new tanker and fire hall addition ($9,000)

1994 – New sign and lettering

1995 – Donation for Squad 1 ($10,345)

1999 – Donation ($5,800)

2000 – Donation for new engine ($56,000)

2008 – Donation for fire hall addition and new squad truck ($60,000)


2010 Ladies Auxiliary Active Members:
  • Jane Barge
  • Melanie Boyer
  • Kelly Bruce
  • Betty Burkhart
  • Diane Glick
  • Pat Hanusick
  • Ethel Miller
  • May Ella Newswanger
  • Dottie Price
  • Esta Lois Smoker
  • Mary Stoltzfus
  • Amy Sweitzer
  • Carla Kauffman
  • Judy Kauffman
  • Nancy Kauffman
  • Jessica Shrock
  • Josi Shrock
  • Tina Wilhlem
  • In charge of rentals:
  • Joanne Newcomb


2010 Officers:
  • President – Ethel Miller
  • Vice President – Nancy Kauffman
  • Secretary – Betty Burkhart
  • Treasurer – Melanie Boyer


Auxiliary Past Presidents:
  • Edna Overley: 1944
  • Mildred Leed: 1945
  • Mary Plank Fritz: 1946-1947
  • Ada Bomberger: 1948-1949
  • Ada Wolf Martin: 1950-1962
  • Mary Haldeman: 1963-1974
  • Naomi Glick: 1975-1977
  • Jane Barge: 1978-1980
  • Barb Fazekas: 1981
  • Jane Barge: 1981-1982
  • Naomi Glick: 1983
  • Charlotte Sellers: 1984-1985
  • Rachael Stoltzfus: 1986-1992
  • Jane Barge: 1993-1994
  • Ruth Bare: 1995-2001
  • Diane Glick: 2002-2008
  • Ethel Miller: 2009-