Volunteer firefighters wrap up annual toy drive
by Brooke Borba | Patterson Irrigator
Dec 20, 2013 | 2062 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local volunteer firefighters and Santa Claus drive around the West Side throughout the week of Dec. 11 to Dec. 17 to obtain gift donations and hand out candy canes.
Local volunteer firefighters and Santa Claus drive around the West Side throughout the week of Dec. 11 to Dec. 17 to obtain gift donations and hand out candy canes.
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Santa asked West Side volunteer firefighters to be his right hand men, instead of his elves the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Santa asked West Side volunteer firefighters to be his right hand men, instead of his elves the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 11.
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Felicity Fernandez, 7, picked out a bike, two footballs, a batmobile, hot wheels and a puzzle to place under one family's Christmas tree.
Felicity Fernandez, 7, picked out a bike, two footballs, a batmobile, hot wheels and a puzzle to place under one family's Christmas tree.
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Volunteers wait for further instructions from Brandon Cousins before diving into the mass of donated toys on Thursday evening, Dec. 19. ---Photos by Brooke Borba
Volunteers wait for further instructions from Brandon Cousins before diving into the mass of donated toys on Thursday evening, Dec. 19. ---Photos by Brooke Borba
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Thanks to the efforts of local volunteer firefighters, every child who signed up to receive a gift through the annual toy drive will have a present to open this holiday season.

The annual event capped off with an evening of good deeds on Thursday, Dec. 19, as volunteers throughout the West Side congregated to the Patterson/West Stanislaus Fire Station No. 1, located at 344 West Las Palmas Ave., to pick out toys for nearly 300 low-income families.

Toy drive coordinator and volunteer firefighter Brandon Cousins said the drive collected 1,800 toys overall, which exceeded their prior goal of acquiring 1,200 toys earlier this month. Big businesses were a huge help in the matter as well, according to Cousins. The toy drive acquired a $5,000 check from Amazon, $1,000 from Kohl’s for a special kids program, and a truck load of toys from Grainger.

“This is a big accomplishment because we were never able to give this many toys to this many families before,” said Cousins.

The good tidings didn’t end there. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the fire station resembled more of an elf’s workshop than an actual garage for fire engines. Over 60 volunteers came to the event to assist the local firefighters, and were given a bag with the name, sex, age and specifics of their selected families, so as to help them choose a present that best correlates with their assigned family’s interests. Stacks of toys were segmented by age group, assisting volunteers as they raced between the aisles, sorting through over thousands of donated items.

Among the supporters were the Patterson High School Ambassador program, local 4-H organizations, Girl Scout Troops 170 and 3898—who supplied a number of delicious items for volunteers to enjoy, and various other helpful citizens.

“This event is always fun, and it’s a great way to provide for our local families,” said Girl Scout Troop Leader Angela Kraft.

Councilman Dominic Farinha was also present, smiling as he dug through various toys to find the right gifts for his assigned family.

“I’m just glad that there are resources and toys that will bring a smile to the children’s face,” said Farinha. “I’m glad to see care and community go hand-in-hand— it’s quite evident here tonight. That is one of the most important elements of Christmas.”

A staff of 25 to 30 local firefighters and volunteer firefighters also assisted with the assembly, checking through bags, labeling them, and filing them for quick safekeeping. On Friday, Dec. 20, families dropped by the fire station to pick up their bag of toys for Christmas morning.

“Our biggest goal is to make sure that every kid will get a present this Christmas,” said coordinator and Captain Eddie Thompson. “I’m overwhelmed that so many community members came together for this. I feel like we’re bringing Christmas spirit to town. It really gets people in the mood.”

Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or brooke@pattersonirrigator.com.

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