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Fire depts help Santa in Magoffin

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MAGOFFIN – Local fire departments across Magoffin are going the extra mile to spread Christmas cheer this holiday season.

Salyersville Fire Department chipped in with the Christmas parade on December 2, then hosted Santa Claus at the fire department, helping hand out popcorn and toys to roughly 300 children. The Run Run Rudolph 5K Walk/Run in large part funded the purchase of the toys, with local business owners chipping in the rest, Salyersville Fire Chief Paul Howard explained to the Independent. 

“The kids were excited to see Santa and Mrs. Claus and got to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas, and each kid got a small gift.”

While in the past City Hall hosted Santa for the community, the fire department has taken over the duty for the past 12 years. 

South Magoffin Volunteer Fire Department loaded up Santa on the fire truck this past Saturday, December 15, bringing him up and down the little roads spread across the South Magoffin area. 

Michelle Handshoe, treasurer, first responder and lieutenant for the SMVFD, said they have been holding the “Santa Runs” for the past several years, going up and down the hollows, giving children fruit, candy and storybooks. She said they would love to hand out toys if they could have enough donated. 

In total, they served over 70 people that day.

“For some of these kids this is the only chance they get to see Santa, so they get so excited,” Handshoe said. “We had one family with four little children, all sitting in the window and waiting for Santa. They told us they had sat there 30 minutes waiting on Santa to come. When we pulled in, they were all lined up at the window and the parents told us if we hadn't come, they would have been in trouble!”

Another family, a mother and her four children, stood in the rain, waiting for Santa and still so excited despite the less-than-ideal weather.

Handshoe said they even made a special stop to the “fire department baby,” who got her nickname when her mom went into labor at home around two years ago and Handshoe had to deliver the baby at 2 a.m. 

“The mom had to go to the hospital in an ambulance and I held the baby, wrapped in a towel, all the way to Highlands,” Handshoe remembers. “She's really special to us.”

While the Santa Run primary serves the children in the community, Handshoe said they have one elderly lady who has to see Santa each year.

“She's in her 80s and in a wheelchair now, but she loves to see Santa coming!” Handshoe said. 

South Magoffin Volunteer Fire Department is the newest fire department in Magoffin, but Handshoe said it has been a blessing for the community.

“Our community has little children and elderly people and that's about it,” she said. “There's a lot of need in this community.”

Similarly, Middle Fork Volunteer Fire Department has recently handed out bags of fruit to 325 households in the Middle Fork community. 

By raising money through online auctions throughout the year, Middle Fork Volunteer Fire Department Chief Scott Castle said they have been able to raise more money this year, which in turn means more help for the community.

“When you ask for money from organizations, you end up with the same people sponsoring everything,” Castle said. “I coach basketball and I once had five checks from Paul Burchell where he donated to five different players, so we decided we were going to fundraise with our own money, came up with the online auctions as a way to test the waters and, so far, we’ve been pretty successful.”

Castle said they started a seasonal fund to help those around the community more, and on Monday, December 17 they sponsored 10 children at North Magoffin Elementary. The fire department went through the family resource center to identify the kids in need, then bought socks, underwear, four pairs of pants, four shirts and a toy for each of the students – all funded by their online auctions. 

As for the reactions from the students, the fire department is going to have to just imagine the kids’ faces.

“We were afraid some of the older kids would feel ashamed or embarrassed, so the superintendent said the best thing to do would be to send the gifts home with the parents to put under the tree,” Castle said. “As long as it helps the kids, that’s what we’re there for.”

The Middle Fork Volunteer Fire Department will be starting their online auctions, again, in January.

Santa has two more scheduled appearances in Magoffin before Christmas, with the first being tomorrow, Friday, December 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the District 3 Volunteer Fire Department

Jim Joseph with the District 3 Volunteer Fire Department said they teamed up with the Royalton Dollar General to hold a toy drive, with the fire department purchasing many of the toys, which will be given out at the at the fire department, and Santa will be there to meet the kids in the Royalton community.

District 3 is still taking donations for the toy drive, Joseph said, noting that there is a box at the Royalton Dollar General where people can drop off new toys, which will all be handed out on Friday.

Then on Saturday Santa will board a fire truck and go with the North Magoffin Volunteer Fire Department, visiting homes in the North Magoffin community. 

North Magoffin Volunteer Fire Department Chief Josh Jenkins said they have been doing Santa Runs for over 12 years, so the community knows to look for them, now.

“We put toys and Santa on a fire truck and follow behind them as they go around every road in the district,” Jenkins said. “The kids come out and we give them toys and peppermint sticks, and we give out fruit to the elderly or anyone we see.” 

He said they have been doing Santa Runs long enough now that the kids when they started are all grown.

“Some of the smaller kids are afraid, some hide and some are so excited,” Jenkins said about the reactions to Santa. “We’ve had a couple come out barefooted in the snow!”

Jenkins said their Christmas traditions are a way to give back to the community.

“We just do it for the kids,” Jenkins said. “We do it for the community, to show them we support them like they support us.”

Jenkins said they fund the Santa Run through donations, auctions, fundraisers and their Community Day earnings.

He urged the community to watch for the fire department, accompanied by Santa, all day Saturday, stating they will start around 9 a.m. and run through approximately 6 p.m. He also asked the parents to bring the kids closer to the main road if a home has a long driveway.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course, these are not the only organizations and individuals helping the community this Christmas season, with Angel Trees, fundraisers and people reaching out a helping hand too numerous to attempt to cover them all. One thing’s for sure, the meaning of Christmas is not lost on Magoffin countians!
 

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Heather Oney