Today is the final day for residents to fill out an application if they wish to receive toys and food from the Santa Pal program, co-sponsored by the Lions Club and Harker Heights Fire Department.

Due to construction at the new Central Fire Station, residents may be confused about the application and pickup locations for this year.

Applications are accepted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the lobby of the Harker Heights Activity Center at the Stewart C. Meyer Public Library at 400 Indian Trail Drive.

The application process began Decc. 4 and will end today (Dec. 15).

The toy and food distribution location will be Dec. 22, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Fire Station # 2 located at 3207 Stillhouse Lake Road.

For more than 25 years, the Santa Pal program has provided toys and a complete Christmas meal for needy families in Harker Heights.

The dinner includes turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, pumpkin pie and more.

The food, however, is uncooked so families can share in the preparation of the meal, as well.

Deputy Chief Glen Gallenstein told the Herald that he is expecting to provide toys and food for about 109 families this year.

“With that we predict supporting 400 to 500 children ages 17 and under,” he said.

If there are no children in the household, needy residents can still apply for a Christmas meal.

“This year has been extremely challenging because of the reconstruction at Central Fire Station where we’ve taken applications and distributed food and toys in the past.

We’ve had to move to different locations and that’s wreaked a little bit of havoc and has hurt us on the toy donation side of the project.

“We’re very low on our donations right now. We’re in good financial shape with the help of citizens who’ve made monetary donations just in the last couple of days. We’re just not seeing the toy donations that we’ve had in the past,” Gallenstein said. “We need the toys more than ever and we’ll still take donations up until December 20 at our temporary offices at Central Fire Station and in the lobby at the Activities Center.”

The Santa Pal program is set up to provide a toy for each child in a household. Gallenstein said, “If we don’t have a toy for that child or a certain age group, we’ll use the funds collected to buy that toy.”

Several agencies like the Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce and others have held toys drives that dramatically helps us with Santa Pal.

“They will also help with what we call stuff the boxes. It will be helpful if we could get all toy donations by Dec. 20. That gives us the time we need to fill those boxes,” Gallenstein said.

Toys should be age appropriate for children 17 and under. There is always a need for toys for the older children. Toys must be new, unwrapped and in original packaging. Used toys will not be accepted.

Follow the Santa Pal program on the HHFD Facebook page or call 254-699-2688.

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