Police, Firefighters Launch Christmas For Kids Drive

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Dennis Fendler/Roundup

This group of youngsters from Community Presbyterian Child Learning Center are all aglow as they hang out with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The children are raising money to buy gifts for other children less fortunate than themselves.

It’s that time a year again when we open our wallets and donate generously to those in need during the holiday season.

Once again, Rim Country’s emergency first responders are asking for help to raise enough money to fund the Public Safety Christmas for Kids drive.

The annual event is a way to collect money to fund shopping trips for at least 400 to 500 children at Walmart.

An officer or firefighter accompanies each child for the shopping extravaganza later in December. Families also receive a food basket from the Rim Country Optimist Club.

Throughout the year, organizations like the Department of Public Safety hold events to raise money to fund the program.

Over the July 4th weekend, the Payson Police Department raised money by selling items at festivities in Green Valley Park.

At a recent golf tournament at Payson Golf Course, $8,000 was brought in with several businesses donating close to $1,000 each.

Coming up Nov. 26 – Black Friday – DPS will be collecting new toys in the Walmart parking lot. All of the toys will be donated to children registered with the program in addition to the shopping trip they take, said DPS Sgt. Terry Lincoln.

Last year, 430 children each had the opportunity to spend $50 at Walmart, enough to buy a few toys and garments. This year that number could rise to as many as 500 children.

Along with the toy drive, the local firefighters will host the Tamales for Toys at Gerardo’s Italian Bistro on Dec. 4.

Lincoln said they hope to raise $21,500 in all this year.

“This is our way to give back to the community,” she said. “This is our way to educate children that we are human. We are out there to do a job.”

The Gila County sheriff’s and attorney’s offices as well as probation department also pitch in.

Parents can register their children for Christmas for Kids Dec. 4 at Town Hall.

Application requirements to participate in the 2010 Christmas for Kids program are as follows:

• Applicants must provide two forms of I.D. along with child’s birth certificate.

• Applicants must provide proof of residency in northern Gila County, such as a lease agreement or utility bill.

• Applicants must provide proof of total household income.

• Children must be living with applicant.

• Only one application per household will be accepted.

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