Firefighters make Christmas a little brighter for local children

BUCKHANNON — A project from the Ellamore Volunteer Fire Department exceeded expectations in spreading Christmas spirit to some families this holiday season.

Firefighters raised $1,025 which was spent on eight children at the Buckhannon Walmart Thursday night.

Fire chief Jamie Pugh said, “We started off with our goal of $400 so we could take four kids but we ended up with enough to take eight kids and extra money for them. We had some businesses donate but it was mostly individuals. They had to pick out either a coat or a pair of boots or shoes and then they were allowed to get a $100 of stuff.”

Union Elementary School provided a list of students from families who could use a little extra help this holiday season.

“They go from pre-K to fifth grade,” he said.

The students and their firefighter buddy crisscrossed the clothing and shoe departments and spent plenty of time in the toy department too.

One little girl was excited to have pajamas for PJ day at school the next day while several of the boys were already planning to have a nerf gun battle.

And still another little girl clutched a mermaid pillow with the sequins that can be brushed up or down to make endless designs.

“I have to say my favorite thing is this pillow,” she said. “I can just play with it all night.”

As the students selected their final purchases and prepared to head to the checkout line Pugh surveyed the smiling faces on the kids and the firefighters alike.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I brought the idea to the members and the whole department was supportive of the idea.

“My hope is we can get other departments in the county to do the same thing. I would like to get all the departments in the county to do it and come together at the same time.”

For the firefighters who signed up to be a shopping buddy, they also got something out of the experience.

Johnny Wilt said it was all about the kids and helping them have a good Christmas but admitted, “I’ve had fun, too.”

Sue Dean said shopping with the kids and seeing the excitement on their faces was her favorite part.

After going through the line, the Christmas Shopping With a Firefighter Program came in almost on budget — going just $1.70 over budget. But that was no problem as firefighters have already begun collecting money for next year.

Outside, one more surprise remained for the kids.

Firefighter Kelly Pugh made ornaments for each of the kids with the name of their firefighter buddy so they would remember the experience. Back at the Ellamore VFD, the firefighters would have ornaments of their own with the names of the kids they helped.

Justin Robinson, who had two children participating in the shopping program, said his family appreciated what the Ellamore community did for their family.

“This is awesome,” he said. “I’m so grateful.”

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