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Valley Professional Firefighters Ensure a Happy Holiday for Local Kids

For over 25 years, the Valley Professional Fire Fighters has partnered with the Auburn Food Bank for the Toys for Kids program. This annual event helps provide toys to local families, ensuring they have a happy holiday. This year’s event served 906 kids from approximately 325 households.

“Our community supports us, and we like to do the same,” said Cory Wallace of the Valley Professional Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 1352. “This is a tradition for us that started [25 plus] years ago. Our members volunteer their time to help facilitate giving away toys to those in need.”

Valley Professional Fire Fighter members worked hundreds of cumulative off-duty hours raising funds and gathering toy donations for this year’s Toys for Kids. For several weeks firefighters collected donations outside of Fred Meyers and Haggen Grocery Store in Auburn.

In addition to the money and toys raised by the firefighters, local businesses donated to the Toys for Kids program. Orion Industries, ThyssenKrupp Aerospace, Raymond Handling Concepts, Scholastic, Athens Pizza, Auburn School District, City of Auburn, EZ-Access, Haggen, Fred Meyer, Hops n Drops, Costco, World Vision, Auburn Food Bank, and VRFA all contributed to the Toys for Kids program.

Raymond Handling Concepts made a large donation of brand-new bikes. Orion Industries held an in-house toy drive. Athens Pizza & Pasta donated a portion of the remaining funds from their Thanksgiving Day dinner fundraiser. Scholastic Books donated new books for all age groups. The Lakeland Hills Hops-n-Drops held a bike and helmet drive. EZ-Access provided a monetary donation from their yearly fundraisers. Costco and World Vision donated new smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

These donations, combined with those made by local citizens, allowed the firefighters to go on a shopping spree for over $10,000 worth of toys for local children. But that shopping spree almost didn’t happen.

Kent-based Puget Sound Fire has a relationship with the now-retired manager of Auburn’s Fred Meyer.   Because of this relationship, they do their big toy shop in Auburn. Knowing this, VRFA’s firefighters planned with Fred Meyer to ensure they would get in before Puget Sound Fire. But Puget Sound Fire somehow managed to get in first. Andrew Clore, a current manager at Fred Meyer, found out and came to the rescue. He took a truck to the Kent Fred Meyer and transferred as many toys as he was able to Auburn’s Fred Meyer, ensuring Auburn’s firefighters could fulfill their Toys for Kids shopping needs.

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The Fred Meyer receipt from the Toys for Kids toy shopping. (A CVS receipt would still be longer…) | Courtesy photo

On the morning of Saturday, December 21st, the Auburn High School cafeteria was filled with tables, bins, and shelves of toys. Families had begun lining up for the toy give away at 3:00am. This isn’t abnormal, shared Auburn Food Bank director Debbie Christian, as families have arrived at midnight in years past. She recalled one year when a family came in their camper two days ahead of the toy give away, afraid they would miss out on items for their children.

Christian confirmed that those arriving early did not receive anything additional. Each family received a specific number of items based on their children. Christian explained, however, that things like the new bikes were extraordinary for some families and important for them to receive.

In addition to the toys, VRFA distributed over 150 new smoke alarms and nearly 50 new carbon monoxide alarms.

For four hours, parents and families came in to shop for toys that would help ensure their children’s holiday wishes would come true.

“Every year, we are amazed by the generosity of the public and businesses. By partnering with them, we can truly make a difference to people right here in the community,” said Wallace.

If you weren’t able to donate to the Toys for Kid program, a team of firefighters from the VRFA will once again be participating in the LLS Firefighter Stairclimb. This event raises funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You can show your support to the VRFA team by donating today.

Article last updated:  1/2/2020 12:40pm Corrected Andrew Clore’s relationship with PSF.

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