Central Emergency Services (CES) fire fighters started a new holiday tradition in 2010 thanks to fire fighter Josh Thompson. "Josh saw this program being done in Anchorage called 'Shop with a Fire Fighter' and we decided it would be a great program for CES to do in our local area. So we made some phone calls to find some folks in need this Holiday season, and our fraternity - the Great Fools of Fire and the Explorer post that CES hosts - donated $500 each.
Then the other members of the department who wanted to participate decided to challenge each other to see how much they could raise and we have $2,100, or $200 each, for the nine kids that have been selected to shop with a fire fighter here today at Fred Meyer's. Additionally Fred Meyers generously contributed a $10.00 gift card for each of the kids." CES Capt. Jack Anderson explained.
While Anderson paused for this interview with the Dispatch, an unknown person from Homer walked up and handed Anderson a dollar from his pocket saying, "I don't have much this year, but we burned out last year and you were there to help us, so here and thanks." Anderson shook his hand, said thank you and added the unsolicited contribution to the cash the kids went shopping with. "We love our job, we have a passion for it and that's why we do it. And the community gives back, so we can give to others, It makes you feel great and happy to be serving this community," added Anderson.
Almost 20 CES fire fighters and volunteers turned out the Saturday before Christmas to shop with the kids. Even CES search and rescue dog Aris was on hand with handler Dale Lawyer to help search out the kids selections. "Fred Meyers gave us the place to gather and brought out the hot cocoa and cookies to make it an extra special day for the kids.
This is our first year, but it has been such a great success we hope to do it again if it helps out the community," said Anderson. There were no criteria on what the kids could buy, the entire store was open for them to shop with their fire fighters and spend the cash on whatever they felt they wanted or needed most. As 13-year-old Henry, along with his sisters 11-year-old Audrey, 10-year-old Adorah, and 5-year-old Angel of Kenai teamed up with their fire fighters to discuss what they wanted most to spend the money on, Audrey was overheard telling the firemen, "I want to buy a present for my brother and sisters so I have something to give them on Christmas," she said.
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