With Thanksgiving three weeks away and only 48 days until Christmas the Harker Heights Fire Department is looking for donations to ensure no family goes hungry this holiday season or is without holiday cheer.
The fire department’s Santa Pal and Thanksgiving Basket programs provides holiday meals and toys to several hundred needy children and their families every year.
Fire Chief Jack Collier said this year they are in dire need of both new toys and monetary donations to provide for the large number of families they expect to help this year.
“The citizens of Harker Heights are great about opening up their hearts and purses to help support both of our programs, but my gut feeling this year, with all that’s going on with the economy, we will help more families this year than we did last year,” he said.
Last year, Collier said they distributed Thanksgiving baskets to 93 families, or 321 people and supplied 132 families with meals and toys for Christmas.
“We’ve been busy taking applications for Thanksgiving,” he said adding that a steady stream of people have come through asking for the assistance. “I don’t care what town or city or area that you are talking about, there is always someone in need and we are not immune from it here either.”
The Lions Club teamed up with the fire department three years ago to help with their Thanksgiving and Santa Pal programs.
“The chamber of commerce asked us what they can do to help, so I am extremely humbled and proud that people are stepping up to help us out,” he said.
Last year the Canteen surprised the fire department with a check for $5,000 to help them make Christmas possible. Collier said the Canteen has pledged the same amount of service they did last year.
The Thanksgiving program also gets help from H-E-B in Harker Heights, which gives discounted prices on store-brand products like stuffing mixes, loaves of bread, cans of vegetables and frozen turkeys. Each family receives enough food for a complete Thanksgiving meal, complete with all the fixings, with some receiving one bag of groceries and others getting two, based on how many mouths need to be fed, Collier said.
People meeting the eligibility criteria to receive a Thanksgiving basket can sign up at the fire department from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 12-15.
Since the Christmas season is right around the corner, Collier said they are also accepting donations for their Santa Pal program.
“All funds go to the Santa Pal program and it all stays within the city,” Collier said. “We don’t receive any other donations, like from Toys for Tots; it’s strictly from the citizens and go to citizens.”
New unwrapped toys are needed for children of all ages. Monetary donations are welcome as well, because they can be used to buy age-appropriate toys for older kids who are typically overlooked, Collier said.
Applications for the Santa Pal program will be accepted 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2-6 and Dec. 9-13.
Donations for either program can be dropped off any time at the Harker Heights Fire Department, 401 Indian Trail.
For more information about Santa Pal or Thanksgiving Baskets, call the fire department at 254-699-2688.