On Thursday, John O’Donnell, treasurer of the Oak Bluffs Firemens Civic Association (OBFCA), asked Kyle Gatchell, an Oak Bluffs EMS responder, to reach out to well known Island restaurateur JB Blau to ask if he could help the fundraising effort for the annual Oak Bluffs fireworks, put on by firefighters. Mr. Blau, who is well known for using social media to promote his restaurant specials, posted a rallying-call on Islanders Talk, a popular Vineyard Facebook site, and he asked businesses to donate. Support flowed in. As of noon on Friday, less than 24 hours after the Facebook post, the donation total hit $9,000, according to Mr. Blau. As of Wednesday, donations totaled $11,500.
The fundraising effort came in response to an announcement this year that Black Entertainment Television (BET) will cease its annual $10,000 donation.
The loss of the BET financial boost presented a challenge to the 40-year tradition.
“We were thinking this was going to be the last year because we lost BET, our big donor,” OBFCA president Jimmy Maseda, said. Mr. Maseda said the social media initiative is a big help because the Oak Bluffs fire department isn’t set up on Facebook yet.
“This is a huge step in the right direction with everyone stepping up and helping us all,” he said.
Businesses and individuals may send donations to the OBFCA at P.O. Box 1673, Oak Bluffs, MA, 02557. OBFCA is a nonprofit and can provide a tax identification number to interested donors.
Correction: An early version of this story said that John O’Donnell reached out to JB Blau. John O’Donnell actually asked Kyle Gatchell to initiate contact.