Donated toys bring joy each December

Sequim residents may hear Christmas carols floating through the winter air tonight and tomorrow night as Clallam County Fire District 3 firefighters and Santa Claus cruise the streets in a vintage fire engine.

The firefighters hope people will hear the music, bundle up and pay them a visit as they slowly roll around town.

"This is our first year. We are trying to encourage donations to families facing tough times during the holiday season," said Marc Lawson, District 3 firefighter and Explorer program coordinator.

"We already have a donation box at the station. But we thought we could take that box out to the community and maybe pass around some good feelings as well with Santa on board and candy canes for all."

Organizers call the event "Santa's Toy and Food Fire Brigade." District 3 Explorers are helping put everything together for the two nights of giving

and receiving.

Santa and his firefighter helpers, who temporarily are replacing his elves, will ride the antique truck through Sequim from 6:30-9 p.m. on Dec. 10-11. The firefighters encourage residents in the area to set aside some nonperishable food items and new and unwrapped toys for when they hear the truck's music. They will donate the items to the Sequim Food Bank and Sequim Community Aid.

"In addition to encouraging a charitable feeling amongst those in our community, we also just want this to be a fun night," Lawson said. "The truck will be going very slow and will stop at the first sign of a child wanting to see Santa or anyone looking for a free candy cane."

Organizers are limiting the area Santa will visit to central Sequim, which is bordered to the east and west by Seventh and Blake avenues and to the north and south by Fir and

Pine streets.

"We're keeping the scope central at first and then possibly taking the operation to a larger scale next year if things go well," Lawson said. "We just know these gifts and food donations really make a difference to those that visit Sequim Food Bank and Sequim Community Aid."

As Lawson discussed the evening of giving, Sequim Valley Antique Car Club members George Wreggit and Ed Edem drove up to the fire station in Edem's 1929 Ford Model A with a pickup load of toys for Sequim Community Aid.

"We do this every year after gathering toys through our membership," Wreggit said. "It makes us all feel a little better about living in Sequim."


Community Aid

Donations to District 3 go directly to families strapped for cash in the Sequim School District through the local nonprofit Sequim Community Aid.

Either through a giving tree at Rite Aid or through a donation box at District 3, Sequim Community Aid has been helping families in troubled times for more than 60 years.

Lawson and Wreggit said they chose the organization because it concentrates on Sequim area families.

Donna Tidrick, president of the organization's board, said the number of families coming to the organization for help with Christmas presents has been on the rise. In 2007, nearly 450 families funneled through the gift distribution area at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 N. Blake Ave.

"Parents need photo IDs and a piece of mail with their address to verify their residency in the school district," Tidrick said, indicating the district runs from Gardiner to Blue Mountain Road. "Then they tell us how many kids, their ages and genders and we send them to tables and boxes filled with toys right for them."

Toys are just the beginning for the organization. With no staff and by operating solely on donations, Sequim Community Aid also helps families threatened with utility disconnection, at risk of eviction, with their transportation needs and provides them many nonperishable items.

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Sequim Community Aid, P.O. Box 1591, Sequim, WA, 98382.

Santa Claus will join Clallam County Fire District 3 firefighters on an antique fire engine as they drive around central Sequim Dec. 10-11 handing out candy canes, taking gift and food donations and visiting with the community in an effort to help Sequim Food Bank and Sequim Community Aid activities supporting needy families.

Sequim Community Aid is accepting new toy donations at Clallam County Fire District 3 headquarters, 323 N. Fifth Ave., through Dec. 15. The organization will distribute the toys to needy families living in the Sequim School District on Dec. 16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 N. Blake Ave.

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