COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Pictured is the Firefighters for Santa donation box located in LA’s Coffee Café in Three Rivers. Donation boxes for the annual Three Rivers Fire Department toy drive are also available at each of the local schools in Three Rivers, and students who donate at the school will be eligible to win a chance to ride on a TRFD fire truck. TRFD is looking for new, unwrapped toys for donations.

Firefighters for Santa toy drive returns to Three Rivers community

THREE RIVERS — Children throughout the Three Rivers community look forward to Christmas and the holiday gift-giving season pretty much all year long.

However some children, for one reason or another, may not be as fortunate in getting presents as others in the community this holiday season. That’s where the Three Rivers Fire Department is stepping in.

Firefighters for Santa, a toy donation drive run by TRFD, will return for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic this holiday season. The department is looking for new, unwrapped children’s toys to donate to those who are less fortunate in the community this holiday season.

“This is a project we are bringing back after COVID to help individuals and families in our community that are unable to provide their children with a decent, good Christmas,” Adam Fleckenstein, a TRFD firefighter/medical first responder and project lead for Firefighters for Santa, said. “We're doing what we can to help make them have that.”

Each school in the Three Rivers Community Schools district has a donation box available for the program, as well as some local businesses. The fire department itself will also be accepting donations.

In the schools, students who donate toys to the cause will have their name put in a raffle to win a chance to ride in a fire truck with a Three Rivers firefighter. Raffle winners will be drawn the week of Dec. 19. Fleckenstein mentioned that at Three Rivers High School, there is also a friendly challenge of sorts they’ve sent to the elementary schools to see which one can donate the most.

Donations will be accepted from now until Dec. 16, with Fleckenstein saying the department itself will also be accepting donations from anyone and any businesses that wish to donate. All the toys collected will be distributed the week before Christmas to families identified by local schools as being in need this holiday season.

Fleckenstein said they’re looking for toys for all ages to be donated, mentioning it’s also a bit tricky to get toys for middle school-age children.

“Those are generally the kids who are over playing with all the little kids’ toys, they want to be cool and all that, so anything in that age bracket for middle school, maybe fifth grade too,” Fleckenstein said. “Any toy for any age we will happily take donations for.”

In addition, Fleckenstein said the fire department is also looking for donations of wrapping paper, bows, tape and nametags for presents, saying that “anything someone wants to donate, I can find a use for.”

Fleckenstein said helping out kids and families who may not have much this holiday season is a great thing for both the fire department and the Three Rivers community as a whole.

“Every day, people take for granted what we all have. A simple thing for some, like putting a coat or hat on, not everybody has that,” Fleckenstein said. “We always take for granted everything we have, and what better way to show support for any fellow citizen than to help out and at least try to give a kid a good Christmas?”

Anyone with questions about the program can email firefightersforsanta@yahoo.com.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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