BUCKHANNON – Members of the Ellamore Volunteer Fire Department have answered approximately calls 220 this year.
But on Wednesday evening, their 21 members answered a very special call – one to help ensure kids in their service area have a Merry Christmas.
Ellamore Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jamie Pugh said the Wednesday event, Shop with a Firefighter, is the second year in a row they have shopped for gifts with kids in the area during the holiday season.
“We will help the children pick out a pair of shoes or boots – whichever they need,” Pugh said. “The firefighters will also help them pick out a coat. Then, the kids will have $100 to buy whatever they want – including presents for themselves or presents they want to give to family members.”
Pugh said the funds to support the Ellamore VFD Shop with a Firefighter program came from donations they collected. Twenty children had signed up to Shop with a Firefighter at Buckhannon Walmart Wednesday evening.
The Ellamore VFD participates in Shop with a Firefighter to lend a helping hand to folks in their service area in late December when money may be tight in some households.
Nineteen Ellamore VFD firefighters and two community members who helped the kids complete their shopping turned out Wednesday.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Pugh said. “The kids are what Christmas is all about. I never thought the program would take off like it has. I brought the idea up to the members last year to see if they were interested. We received enough donations last year that we took eight kids shopping. This year, it has really taken off.”
Pugh said students selected for the Shop with a Firefighter attend Union Elementary School.
“I had a lot of people who called me about the program,” he said. “We receive the referrals from Union School – we do not select the students.”
With the help of Ellamore firefighter Mike Higham, Troy, who is 16, said he was shopping for clothes – specifically shorts.
“I am only looking for clothes,” Troy said. “I have everything else I want and need. I will probably get shorts, underwear and basic clothes.”
Addilee, a pre-school student, shopped with Joan Howes. Her mom said she likes to dress up like a princess, adding that she also enjoys playing in the mud.
“I want toys,” Addilee said as she picked out a shirt with a unicorn.
Ellamore VFD member Sue Dean has been with the department for 11 years. She helped first-grader Lillian pick out toys and clothes.
“I want a Hatchimals toy and boots,” Lillian said.
Pugh said it takes about an hour-and-a-half to complete shopping with the kids.
“I love doing this. I really like to see the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Pugh said.
Along with assisting on calls, members of the Ellamore VFD also help distribute smoke detectors throughout the year.
“Last year we put up more than 130 smoke detectors,” Pugh said. “If people need them, you can contact us through the Ellamore VFD Facebook page.”