Philanthropy Friday: Giving Back at Firehouse Subs

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Disclosure: My two boys and I received a free lunch from our local Firehouse Subs while we discussed the ways in which the company gives back. I had the Turkey Bacon Ranch sub, in case you were wondering, and it was really good. As per usual, all words and opinions expressed are my own. 

The counter at my local Firehouse Subs in Topsham, Maine.

The counter at my local Firehouse Subs in Topsham, Maine.

With more than 800 restaurants in 42 states and Puerto Rico, chances are you have heard of Firehouse Subs. They are the only sub shop around that steams their meats and cheeses, releasing a “rush of flavors” and serves them on a private recipe sub roll.

To be honest, I’m usually skeptical of chain restaurants, preferring to support a local eatery instead. However, I was recently invited to visit my local Firehouse Subs to learn more about what the company calls “the heart of their brand,” the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. After reading about recent donations to a local technical school and fire department, I was intrigued.

Chris and Robin Sorensen, the co-founders of Firehouse Subs, founded the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $11 million to 790 public safety organizations across the country. I’m told more than $25,700 has been donated in the state of Maine.

According to the website:

I had a wonderful lunch with Dave Tucci, the local area representative for Firehouse Subs, his lovely daughter and my two boys. Dave’s wife and her parents also showed up at one point, making for a nice family meal on a school holiday.

Dave told me about the foundation and the different ways customers of Firehouse Subs can contribute to it when they visit the restaurant. He also told me that a local representative of Firehouse Subs, like himself, always meets with the fire chief in the town in which a new restaurant is to be opened. The goal for the franchise is to partner with people who have both restaurant experience and an intimate knowledge of the local community. 

One of my favorite things about Firehouse Subs is that you will always be greeted by someone at the counter when you walk through the door, even when it gets busy. Dave says they want everyone to feel like they are at home when they visit the restaurant.

Pickle buckets at Firehouse Subs cost just $2 and the money goes to their public safety foundation.

Pickle buckets at Firehouse Subs cost just $2 and the money goes to their public safety foundation.

There are several easy ways to give back when you eat at Firehouse Subs. You can drop your spare change into an acrylic canister (as you see in the second photo in this post). You can “round up” your purchase to the nearest dollar when you complete your sale. You can also purchase a recycled 5-gallon pickle bucket for $2, with proceeds going directly to the public safety foundation.

During the month of October, also Public Safety Month, customers can purchase a $1 or $5 medallion to support the foundation. Medallions (seen on display behind the pickle buckets above) are on display for the entire month.

The foundation has most certainly made an impact in Maine and around the country. Dave told me a story of how two employees of Firehouse Subs were in a bad accident that required the use of jaws of life equipment donated by their employer. Luckily, the employees were OK in the end. While Firehouse Subs is newer in the state of Maine, donations have been made in the past through a grant process.

You can read more about the local impact the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has made on their website. Or visit their brand new interactive website that shows the lifecycle of a quarter when it is donated to the foundation.

How will you give back at Firehouse Subs?

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