Volunteers with Ellamore Volunteer Fire Department converged on Walmart to shop with 47 children for Christmas Dec. 14. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

One county fire department’s ‘Shop with a Firefighter’ event draws largest turnout ever

BUCKHANNON –The Ellamore Volunteer Fire Department will invite at least 98 children to Shop with a Firefighter Dec. 14 and 16.

Ellamore Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jamie Pugh said this will be their fifth ‘Shop with a Firefighter’ event — and their biggest one yet.

“We take underprivileged kids, they come with us to Walmart, and they get a pair of shoes or boots, a coat and then they get $100 to buy whatever they want to buy,” Pugh said. “This is our first year taking applications countywide. We’ve always focused on Union Elementary School, but we started getting a lot of donations throughout the county, so we were excited to do it.”

The fire department typically raises the funds from a chicken barbecue and an online auction, but several organizations made donations this year.

“We got a lot of donations from local businesses, churches, different organizations,” Pugh said. “Every year it’s grown, and this year, we’re going to end up with at least 98 kids. We’re shopping with 47 kids tonight and we have 44 to take Thursday night and then we’ve got a couple here and there that we take to fit their schedule.”

Applications were sent to the all the schools in Upshur County and the counseling staff determined which students could benefit from the program the most.

“We ended up with over 140 applications and 140 kids total, so we had to narrow that down and we always work with other organizations to make sure no kid was already part of an Angel Tree, that knocked out several of them,” Pugh said. “After that, we more or less draw names pick our applications.”

Letters were sent to 78 businesses to raise funds and they received multiple larger donations.

“We send out letters to 78 businesses, organizations and churches, explaining what the program is for and we just had overwhelming success,” Pugh said. “We had one person who we call our secret Santa that donated $1,000 and we had another organization this year donate $1,000, several individuals donated $500, so all together we raised over $17,000 this year.”

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