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'Stuff a Fire Truck' project to benefit troops overseas

December 23, 2010|By C.J. LOVELACE | Staff Correspondent
  • This retired fire truck will be appearing around the Chambersburg, Pa., area to collect donations for the Franklin Fire Co. to send to military personnel overseas.
C.J. Lovelace, Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Franklin Fire Co. President Jim Hull's son has been stationed in Afghanistan since July.

He, along with thousands of other parents of U.S. Marines, will be without his son when Christmas morning arrives.

Service men and women overseas are the driving force behind the fire company's weeklong project called Stuff a Fire Truck for the Soldiers, which kicked off Thursday afternoon at the company's station in Chambersburg.

"It's a big deal," Hull said.

Until New Year's Day, the company plans to have collection points around the community — starting today at the Chambersburg Lowe's — where people can donate items that will be sent to troops overseas.

Items sought include things like toiletries, nonperishable food items and recreation equipment. A complete list of donation ideas is available at www.anysoldier.com.

Ken North, coordinator of the event for the company, said they will be at each location with a fire truck so people can "stuff the truck" with items for the troops. That gives children and families a chance to see the trucks and meet company members face to face while lending a hand to those overseas, he said.

"I know how kids are with fire trucks, being able to touch a fire truck — I thought it'd be a way to get them to come," North said. "Parents can help the kids understand that firemen are good people and they could trust us."

The idea for the project came to him one day when he heard an advertisement for Toys for Tots drives on the radio. He began thinking of ways the company could give back to the community, and helping the troops was just a natural fit.

"They're doing what we do," North said. "We protect people and property, they're protecting people and property; it's just a little bit different field."

Several company members were in attendance at the kickoff event Thursday along with state Sen. Rich Alloway and state Rep. Mark Keller, both huge supporters of the project.

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"When you have a fire company who is always out asking for donations for themselves, for them to step up to the plate for our troops, it speaks very, very loudly of the dedication and commitment of companies like this that want to do something good for the men and women who are defending us," said Keller.

North said the company wanted to do something that would keep supporting our troops beyond the holiday season, when many receive gifts. It will serve as a reminder that the community cares and hopes to see them come home safe, he said.

"During the holiday season, it is especially important to remember and honor those serving in the armed forces," said Alloway.

"This project is a great way for all of us to show our support and offer thanks to those who serve our country."

To ensure that fire protection and response times would not suffer during the project, the company publicly thanked a close friend, Bill Adams of Willow Hill, who donated a retired yellow fire truck, which is essentially gutted, that would serve as their collection vessel.

They will be somewhere in the community every day except Christmas Day.

Culminating the weeklong effort, a final "Stuff the House" event will take place on New Year's Day from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Franklin Fire Co. station, locally nicknamed "The Big House." All the donations will be placed into the company's safety trailer before they are shipped overseas.

Many items have already been donated, North said. The company will also accept monetary donations to help offset the cost of shipping.

North said they wanted to give the community the chance to physically feel like they are helping our men and women overseas.

"Our theme is to say to soldiers 'come home safe,'" he said. "We're not looking for money for us. This is for the soldiers and we just thought this was one way to give back."


Donation Locations:

Friday, Dec. 24, 1-4 p.m. — Lowe's, 1600 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2-5 p.m. — Amvets, 750 Fifth Ave., Chambersburg

Monday, Dec. 27, 6-8 p.m. — Minute Car Wash, 331 W. Loudon St., Chambersburg

Tuesday, Dec. 28, 6-8 p.m. — Gander Mountain, 3285 Black Gap Road, Chambersburg

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 6-8 p.m. — Food Lion, 4190 Philadelphia Ave., Chambersburg

Thursday, Dec. 30, 6-8 p.m. — Giant Foods, 993 Wayne Ave., Chambersburg

Friday, Dec. 31, 2-4 p.m. — Sunnyway Foods, 49 Warmspring Road, Chambersburg

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011, 2-4 p.m. — "Stuff the House at the Big House," Franklin Fire Co., 158 W. King St., Chambersburg

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