LAKE TOWNSHIP — For the Lake Ariel Fire Company, the pancake breakfast on Sunday marked the beginning of a recovery.
It was the first fundraiser since Aaron Rossignol, the former company president, was criminally charged and accused of stealing more than $8,000.
Prosecutors said he copied the department’s fuel credit cards, and used them for himself between April 2011 and January 2014.
“I have known him for a long time, it’s just hard to believe you know,” said Mark Cowger, who replaced Rossignol as president.
Joan Egans’ eyes welled with tears just thinking about it. She said that five years ago the department put out a fire at her home.
“It wasn’t a big fire but they were very careful about not destroying things,” she said.
Like many volunteer departments, Lake Ariel relies on fundraising events like the pancake breakfast and an Easter egg hunt scheduled for April 19.
The need is now greater, after the loss.
“It jeopardized the whole operation of this department. It’s not going to stop us. We’re going to continue on,” said Deputy Chief Alex Rae.
Not only did the alleged theft siphon away money, it also damaged morale. However, support from the community is lifting firefighters’ spirits.
“They are all volunteers. They put their lives on the line every time they go out. It was a disappointment for everybody. We’re here to support them all year long,” said Patty Dennis.