Groundhog Breakfast gathers crucial funds

Rob Carolan of Hometown Forecast Services raises his hand to make a donation toward sending a child to summer camp, while George Russell of WSMN radio calls on others in the room to donate, Friday during the Granite State Groundhog Gathering Breakfast.

NASHUA – A groundhog will emerge from its burrow today to determine whether spring will arrive early or if winter will persist for another six weeks.

Friday, Pennichuck Chuck helped determine how many kids will be sent to summer camp at the Granite State Groundhog Gathering Breakfast.

The fundraiser helps The Salvation Army of Nashua ease life’s burdens for many in Greater Nashua. Including ticket sales, sponsorships, donations and silent and live auctions, more area kids will once again head off to summer camp. The breakfast is a lighthearted take on weather forecasting and also recognizes dedicated individuals in the community. Local officials gathered at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Nashua to spend some money for a good cause and learn who this year’s Citizen of the Year recipient is. That is Nashua Fire Chief Brian Rhodes.

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess has had the privilege of working very closely with Rhodes though the years, and said he has done a great job with the fire department, particularly on the city’s Safe Stations Program.

“Brian has been very engaged with that along with all the members of our fire department,” Donchess said.

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess was one of a few speakers who addressed the audience of The Salvation Army supporters at the Granite State Groundhog Gathering Breakfast.

“I just can’t say enough about everything that Brian has done for the city of Nashua over so many years,” he continued.

Rhodes is a Salvation Army supporter and a former member of the advisory board, and has been serving the residents of Nashua as a member of Nashua Fire Rescue since 1987. In April, Rhodes became the chief and has since been influential in the fight against the opioid crisis. Aside from his city service, he has also shown public servitude by serving six years in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He is a husband, father, grandfather and friend of many in the community. However, family came first for Rhodes Friday morning, and his presence was missed during the breakfast while he was celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary. However, he still managed to speak on behalf of receiving this award by submitting a video to be played on a large screen.

“I’ve had the privilege of being a resident of Nashua since 1987,” Rhodes said. “This was the year the city gave a 21-year-old kid the opportunity to be a Nashua firefighter. Throughout the past 32 years, I’ve tried to give back to this incredible community however I can.”

Commanding Officer with The Salvation Army of Nashua Capt. Wayne Bink presented the award to Rhodes’ daughter Kelsey and her fiancee’ Cam Gould who accepted it on his behalf.

Moreover, another special award honored John Roberts, 300 Main St. Market Plaza with the Angel Award. Roberts donated a space for the Salvation Army to use over the last couple of years, which worked out well with all the logistics of using the space to have people pick up and drop off toys during the Christmas season. Roberts was unable to attend the breakfast, as well.

Telegraph photo by ADAM URQUHART Nashua Fire Chief Brian Rhodes was this year’s recipient of The Salvation Army Citizen of the Year award. His daughter and her fiancee accepted the award on his behalf while he was off celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife. Cam Gould, from left, and Kelsey Rhodes accepted the award of his behalf, and Commanding Officer with The Salvation Army Capt. Wayne Bink presented them the award with help from Pennichuck Chuck.

Gov. Chris Sununu was also unable to make it to the fundraiser, but instead sent a letter that was read aloud on his behalf.

“I’m always delighted to see communities coming together to benefit citizens in need, especially our youngest citizens,” Sununu’s letter stated. “The Groundhog Breakfast is a wonderful fundraiser that allows children throughout the Greater Nashua area to attend summer camp. The Nashua Salvation Army works hard year after year to make this event happen, and I thank them for their continued efforts on behalf of the community, and this event and throughout the year.”

Money raised during the breakfast will help the Salvation Army continue their work to change people’s lives, while sending boys and girls to summer camp either at the Salvation Army’s summer day camp at their location or Camp Sebago in Standish, Maine.