Firefighters Save Tamale Charity Event

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For 15 years, Town Clerk Silvia Smith and her husband, Don, cooked dozens of tamales and exchanged them for new toys that were then donated to the Law Enforcement Christmas for Kids program.

The Tamales for Toys tradition was in jeopardy when the Smiths decided to retire this year.

"I panicked when I first learned that the Tamales for Toys program was being canceled," retired Payson Police officer Charlene Hunt said.

Hunt has worked on the Law Enforcement Christmas for Kids program for the past 10 years. "Last year, the Smiths donated 800 toys. Losing 800 toys would kill our program."

Hunt and her husband, Albert, began searching for a sponsor to keep the program going. "We approached the fire department, and after some consideration, the Northern Gila County Firefighters Association agreed to be the sponsor," Hunt said.

"Albert and I will be coordinating it."

Finding a sponsor was the first hurdle. "The next step was to find somewhere to hold the event, and a place we could cook 50 dozen tamales," Hunt said. "I contacted the Masonic Lodge and they opened their doors to us."

Hunt said the owners of Chema's restaurant offered the use of their restaurant to cook the tamales. Owner Sam Garcia also is a firefighter. "We have plenty of people to cook the tamales, but we still need money for drinks and ingredients," Hunt said.

The event will be Saturday, Dec. 6. For more information or to make donations, contact Toby Waugh or Garrett Ward at (928) 474-5242 Ext. 300 or the Hunts at (928) 474-6886.

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