Dec. 19, 2018 — Hundreds of local families received an early visit from Santa this year, as members of Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue (SVFR), Florence Police Department, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and more distributed free toys on Tuesday at the SVFR Main Station.
With the appropriate documents, parents of children under the age of 14,were able to select a bag or box of toys from among the hundreds available, thanks to generous donations and year-round work by members of the Marine Reserves, Toys for Tots and local volunteers.
This is the second year that SVFR participated in the toy giveaway, primarily with gifts provided by Lane County Toys for Tots. These toys were well supplemented by donations from the area, including a number of bicycles that were dropped off.
Towards the end of the giveaway period, SVFR Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Pete Warren said the event was going well, considering the inclement weather.
“Mother Nature seemed like she was going to throw a wrench into the event, but the weather cooperated, and some sunshine actually poked out through the clouds at times,” he said. “The community has been extremely generous this year. They’ve donated bicycles, cool toys, awesome looking stuff animals and even a Fire Tablet. We almost didn’t have enough space to put everything.”
Volunteers began showing up at 8 a.m. to set up for the event, which began at 11 a.m. and ended 4 p.m.
“When the Marines showed up, they were driving two huge trucks with trailers attached,” Warren said. “These were loaded with literally tons of toys, games, stuffed animals, bicycles and anything else — which will keep kids happily playing for days!”
One of the best parts of the giveaway, at least from Warren’s perspective, is the welcome support the local community has provided as Toys for Tots establishes itself in Florence.
The event required partnership with the Florence and Winchester Bay Coast Guard, U.S. Marines, the Florence Police Department, Swisshome/Deadwood Fire Department, Mapleton Fire Department and community members. Both SVFR firefighters and fire auxiliary members helped throughout the day.
“This event has been well received in the community and the volunteer presence has been the reason it’s becoming a successful event,” Warren said. “It’s now becoming a community-owned event, and that’s the only way it’s going to successfully continue.
“Way to go communities along the coast!”