Eddie Wells, co-owner of Firehouse Subs in Hinesville, is keeping his word about his company’s support for first responders.
A grant application by his franchise restaurant for $3,988 to assist the Hinesville Fire Department was approved at the June 6 city council meeting.
When his store opened last November, Wells proudly talked about Firehouse Subs’ nonprofit organization, the Public Safety Foundation, which he said provides funding, life-saving equipment, disaster-relief assistance and educational opportunities for first responders and public-safety organizations.
At that time, he said his restaurant assists the local fire departments, law enforcement, emergency-medical services and other organizations by raising funds to provide necessary tools, technology and training.
The recent grant application is for the purchase of 100 child-safety seats on behalf of Hinesville Fire Department’s Child Safety Seat Program, he said.
“We just signed the paperwork for that grant (Tuesday),” Wells said. “We’re excited about it. It gives us a chance to give back to the community. We’ll probably have an answer (on the grant application) within 30 days, with the money requested within 90 days of approval. It’ll be our first donation at this store, but we’ve done a number of donations at our stores in Brunswick and Beaufort.”
Wells also is working on a grant application for metal detectors for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and a grant application for the Liberty County Board of Education. Additionally, he said his store is accepting donations for first responders helping victims of the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma. Every penny raised will go to the disaster relief, he said.
The donation box, which sits between the cash registers, has “Round Up” written on it. Below that message, in smaller letters, reads “your spare change to support Oklahoma first responders.”
Wells said he and his employees encourage customers to “round up” their purchases to the nearest dollar and leave the change in the donation box. The box appeared to contain more dollar bills than coin change.
Wells said Firehouse Subs supports local first responders because the company’s original owners, brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen, were former members of a local fire department and Sorenson family members have been firefighters for more than 200 years. It explains the restaurant’s name and the fire-department equipment and murals lining the walls inside the restaurant. It also is why sandwiches like the “hook and ladder” and “engineer” are named for fire-department equipment or personnel, he said.
Following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Wells said company owners started their own nonprofit group to help those who help disaster victims and protect the community.
“The foundation donated over $2 million last year,” said Wells, who is a Hinesville native and graduate of Bradwell Institute. “We’re glad to be a part of that.”
According to the company’s website, since opening the first restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla., Firehouse Subs now has more than 600 stores in 35 states and Puerto Rico.