PITTSFIELD -- City firefighters hope the season of giving extends beyond the holidays as its annual fundraising campaign kicks off nearly a month later than usual.
Starting next week, Pittsfield Firefighters Association Local 2647 will reach out to city residents and businesses over the next four weeks, asking them to donate toward the firefighters' goal of $10,000.
Proceeds benefit high school graduates, community groups and the needy, according to organizers.
TCI America of Rhode Island will once again conduct the telephone campaign on behalf of the firefighters association.
The fundraiser begins Sunday, but union president Tim Bartini said the rest of the phone calls will be made weekdays between 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. until early February.
Traditionally, the fundraiser begins a week before Christmas, but it was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, Bartini said.
"We had a scheduling conflict [with TCI], but that may work in our favor," he noted. "I didn't like doing the fundraiser so close to the holidays."
While the fundraising goal is $10,000, the firefighters anticipate a higher amount based on the four previous years' campaigns that have averaged close to $13,000.
"Given the economy, we don't pressure people," Bartini said. "If people can give, that's great."
The annual fundraising effort includes money from ticket sales from a benefit comedy show held each spring. The Comedy Caravan Show returns on April 12 at the Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield, featuring Boston's best comedians, according to Bartini.
"Every year it's a sell-out, so why change a good thing," he said.
The majority of the contributions go toward scholarships for seniors at Pittsfield and Taconic high schools, St. Joseph's High School and Miss Hall's School. Bartini said 38 scholarships totaling more $7,200 were doled out last spring -- on par with number and amount of awards in 2010 and 2011.
In addition, the Pittsfield Firefighters Association fund provides financial assistance to many different local agencies and organizations, such as the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club and the Christian Center.
The association will also hold back some of the money raised in case of emergencies, such as families or individuals hit hard by fire.
Bartini said anyone with questions about the fundraising can call him at work, (413) 499-0374, or on his cell at (413) 281-8021.