CRANBURY, NJ – Local sandwich shop Mr. Subs recently served up some appreciation for the men and women of the Cranbury Volunteer Fire Company.

Last Monday, between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m., the restaurant donated 15 percent of its sales to the department, as a way of saying thank you for all its volunteers do.

“I think small businesses in town should always look out for the fire department (and) police officers,” Assistant Manager Chris Phillips said. “They're there to help save lives and I respect all of them.”

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Having done something similar last year for the fire department, Phillips said that he talked to Fire Chief Michael Kervan about bringing a few of the fire rigs over to make this year's event a little bigger. Sitting at one of the shop's tables, as the traffic raced along Route 130 outside, Phillips said that doing right by the township's first responders is almost a family legacy.

The son of a retired police officer, and brother to a military cop, Phillips himself is a former bounty hunter who has been in the food business for a number of years. He previously ran his own sub shop before signing on to manage Mr. Subs.

According to Phillips, members of the military, firefighters and police officers in uniform always receive a percentage off their bill, as an ongoing gesture of thanks.

The hope is to turn the fund raiser into an annual event, Phillips said.

While the sandwich shop worked on raising funds for the fire company, the department opened its doors for an open house two days prior on Oct. 15, in an effort to recruit more members.

“We like to show everybody what we do, what our capabilities are, show everybody our equipment,” Chief Kervan said. “And hopefully attract some new members.”

Currently the department has 28 to 30 members, Chief Kervan said, however, not all of these are able to respond to calls during the year.

“Some of those are college students, so, in the summer, we have a lot more people around to respond to calls, but then they go away,” he said. “So even though we have 28, that doesn't mean we have 28.”

Typically, the department runs 40 to 50 calls per month, Chief Kervan said.

“We're pretty steady,” he said.

Children had the opportunity to put out an imaginary fire by working the hose and were able to douse real flames with help from nearby fire extinguishers, during the event.

Aspiring firefighters could choose from red or black souvenir helmets and there were plenty of stickers, pencils, erasers and pamphlets on fire safety for the taking.

Corinne Brennan, 42, of Princeton, said that it was a Cranbury Presbyterian Nursery School (CPNS) field trip that brought her family out.  

The mother of two sets of twins said she and her husband brought their children into town for the day after 4-year-olds Ava and Andrew went on a CPNS field trip to the fire house.

“They absolutely loved it and their teachers told us that there was going to be an open house today, so we decided to bring them back so they could see some more,” she said.

The trip seemed to have kindled a calling to the fire service in both Ava and Andrew.

“When I grow up I want to be a firefighter!” Ava said excitedly.

Andrew quickly agreed.

“Me too!” he said.

“I want to save anything that's up in a tree,” Ava said.

John Bradley, 45, of Cranbury, attended the event with his six-year-old daughter Caroline and said he came out to show his support for the volunteers.

“These guys do such a great job,” he said. “And she comes out to fill her bag with goodies!”

Making her selections at the table carefully, Caroline made sure not to take the same item twice.

“I really liked putting that fire out,” she said, when asked about her favorite activity.

Bradley also said that he is in the process of becoming a volunteer firefighter with the company.

“It's a great town and everybody's so friendly, and you just want to give back,” he said.

All the doors and windows were opened on one of the company's rigs in the parking lot, with several little ones clambering up into the truck to check it out.

Not for the faint of heart, or those afraid of heights, the ladder truck was taking people high above the building for a birds-eye view of the area.

Committeeman Jay Taylor, a company member as well, excused himself mid-conversation to snap a few photos of his daughter going up in the bucket.

How many new members would the fire department like to have come on board?

“As many as we can get,” Chief Kervan said. 

Mr. Subs is located at 2674 Route 130. The company has additional locations in Bound Brook, South Plainfield, North Brunswick and Rahway, according to its website.

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