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Photos: Bellevue-Dayton FD Helps Families at Christmas

The Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department once again helped bring hope and cheer to families in the Christmas season. For the nineteenth year, about a dozen firefighters, full-time and volunteer, chipped in time and effort Thursday evening to caravan around to the houses of 9 families in Dayton and Bellevue to deliver presents to the children, and a good sized basket of food containing a ham, potatoes, vegetables, bread, peanut butter and jelly, and milk. Wives and older children of the firefighters went along as elves, and one of the full-time lieutenants filled out the Santa suit.

Every year, the family resource centers at Grandview Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, and Holy Trinity School help the firefighters by identifying families who might be having difficulty making Christmas happen for their children. This year there were nine families and thirty-seven children. A generous couple, Steve and Rochelle Hensley, who used to live in Bellevue, have a giant toy party weekend at their house, and they take the toys that they collect and donate them to the Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department. The toys are usually for children ten and under, so the Ladies Auxiliary raises money for the food and any other toys for the older children.

Captain Jim Richmond has participated in the effort all nineteen years, but he has been in charge of the event for about six years.

"For many of these kids, these are the only presents they will get," he said. "Kids should get something on Christmas. Usually when we pull up, they are waiting for us, with their faces pressed against the windows, or even standing on the porches, so excited."

The giant bags filled with presents for the 37 children on the route were loaded into the department's pickup truck, which led the way on the trip. They were followed by a huge fire truck carrying a jolly Santa, and then a rescue truck with more helpers. As the captain predicted, the children could hardly contain their excitement, and there didn't seem to be a shy child in the bunch who didn't want to take the presents or hug the larger-than-life benefactor. Moms and dads were happy to see their children so happy.

The excursion takes a lot of time to prepare, and about two to three hours to deliver, but no one complains, and there are smiles all around for the evening's work. The heroes that save people from burning houses also save children from thinking Santa forgot about them.  

All in a day's work.

Story and photos by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

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