MOULTRIE, Ga. — Only six months after it opened, the Moultrie Firehouse Subs restaurant has received national attention for collecting money for the Firehouse Public Safety Foundation, the company’s charitable arm.

In the second period — one quarter of the company’s fiscal year — the Moultrie store was first in the nation in fund-raising; the Tifton store was fourth. In the very next quarter, their places were exactly reversed.

That’s important because both stores are owned by the same person, Carla Dodson of Tifton, who also owns the Firehouse Subs in Albany.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based chain operates 1,105 stores in 44 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico.

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation provides funding, life-saving equipment and educational opportunities to first responders and public safety organizations.

“It’s the second best thing besides our food that Firehouse Subs does,” Dodson said.

Dodson said cashiers are required to ask customers if they’ll round up the cost of their meal. The “spare change” goes to the foundation.

For example, say a meal costs $8.75, including tax. If you round up, you pay $9, and the extra 25 cents goes to the foundation.

The change adds up: In the first quarter after the Moultrie store opened in December, it raised $3,407.44, according to a company newsletter. Across the company, the foundation received more than a half-million dollars in the period.

Dodson said almost 92 percent of the money brought in is used to help first responders like firefighters, police officers and EMTs. Administration costs are very low, she said.

Agencies apply for grants from the foundation. The next deadline to apply is May 24, and Dodson said she hopes local departments apply. Their odds of getting a grant are better when the local store is successful at fund-raising, she said.

“I don’t want them to be turned down because my store’s not doing their part,” she said.

The Moultrie store hasn’t been around long enough to give out a grant, but Dodson said the Albany store helped provide a rescue boat valued at almost $20,000 to a Lee County agency.

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