Hold off on getting that Mexican food fix. The annual Tamales for Toys event is just down the way.
Get a new toy (or a few) and take them to Gerardo’s Italian Bistro from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6 and enjoy a great homemade tamale dinner, courtesy of the Rim Country’s firefighters.
The annual event is a way to collect new toys (for children ages infant to 17) for the Christmas for Kids program that public safety personnel from around the Rim present each year to make the holidays happy for everyone.
“The more we get, the more we can help,” said coordinator Detective Matt Van Camp of the Payson Police Department.
“Last year we gave toys to 504 children,” he said.
While Van Camp coordinates the overall program, different agencies take on the responsibility for different events throughout the year.
The Payson Fire Department and the Northern Gila County Firefighters Association put on the Tamale for Toys event, with Sam Garcia of the Payson Fire Department supervising the cooking.
In addition to the homemade tamales — for which a secret family recipe is used, according to Van Camp — there will be beans, chips and a drink served. A sign-up sheet will be available for any leftover tamales as well, for which those interested can call at the end of the event. Donations of cash will also be accepted.
With the firefighters in charge of the Tamales for Toys, personnel from other agencies provide support, Van Camp said.
The Christmas for Kids program participants include the area’s Arizona Department of Public Safety and Gila County Sheriff’s Office and the Gila County Attorney’s Office, in addition to the Payson police and fire departments and members of the firefighters association from throughout the Rim Country.
This year, families can sign up to benefit from the Christmas for Kids program Dec. 4-6 at the empty store next to the Pizza Factory (244 E. Highway 260), Van Camp said.
Times to register are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 4 and Friday, Dec. 5; and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6.
Registration for Christmas Food Baskets from the Rim Country Optimist Club will be taken at the same time.
This year the Christmas for Kids program is taking a different approach to providing gifts for the children it serves. When participants register, they will be given information about a special shopping trip to Walmart later in December where the children can pick out the gifts they want.
“It is important that people register between Dec. 4 and Dec. 6 because we need to know how much money we can give each child to spend on the shopping trip,” Van Camp said. He added he hopes most of the youngsters will get things they need like clothes or a coat and then, if they have money left, pick a toy or something less essential.
For additional details on the 2008 Christmas for Kids program or Optimist Christmas Food Baskets, call the police department at (928) 474-5177, ext. 320.
Christmas for Kids
Application requirements to participate in the 2008 Christmas for Kids program are as follows:
• Applicants must provide a photo I.D.
• Applicants must provide proof of residency in northern Gila County, such as a lease agreement, utility bill, etc. The name of the applicant must be on the proof provided.
• Applicants must provide proof of total household income. Only employer check stubs, bank statement or D.E.S. statements will be accepted (handwritten notes will no longer be accepted).
• Children must be living with applicant.
• Only one application per household will be accepted.
• Applicants found to have applied for additional food or gift assistance from other sources will be denied.
• Spanish speaking citizens must bring an interpreter.
Application dates and location
• Bashas’ Shopping Center,
244 E. Highway 260
• 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday,
• 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 5
• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday,