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Community comes through each year for Pa. toy drive

December 18, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

MONT ALTO, Pa. - With enough presents for only one in seven families, the eighth annual Mont Alto Volunteer Fire Department Toy Drive was off to a rocky start.

Then, with just two weeks until Sunday's distribution, donations began to stream into the fire department, allowing a record number of families to be greeted by Santa Claus on a red fire engine.

Bicycles, dolls, games and coloring books weren't the only things loaded into firetrucks, box trucks and ambulances.

"Every family is going to get a food box, a turkey and a fruit basket," said Drue Jones, a volunteer who did much of the planning for the event.

The department also used the $7,800 in donations to purchase food and gift cards for parents.

Three Santas leading different routes - one spanning - 67 miles, stopped at 138 homes, 30 more than last year.

He said a lot of families served in the past not only said they didn't need to be on this year's list, but they actually donated to the others.

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Families who are nominated or request deliveries are accepted without question.

Women from the Penn National community wrapped presents Monday, and the fire department's ladies auxiliary cooked two meals for Sunday's crew of more than 50 of Santa's local helpers. Many of those helpers have been involved for several deliveries.

"They go one year, and they're hooked," Jones said.

The toy drive, which serves infants to 17-year-olds, still maintains the premise on which it was founded.

"From Day One, when we got started, I thought the neatest thing we could do is pull up to a house and have a firetruck with Santa on it," Jones said.

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