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Food and toys: Fire department delivers in time for Christmas

It's the season of giving. On Tuesday, with the help of dozens of volunteers, South King Fire and Rescue delivered 125 boxes of food and bags of toys to families throughout the community.

Donations poured in this year from Federal Way and Des Moines. There was so much food that the fire department made a large delivery to the food bank with the extra canned goods. Local schools brought in thousands of items, canned goods and other non-perishables and cash for items such as milk, cheese and eggs.

Volunteers spent hours wrapping hundreds of gifts that went to 460 kids, and bagged the gifts in large bags for each family. Families also received a box of perishables, including a turkey or a ham for Christmas dinner, as well as dry goods and canned food to last about a week.

High school students, mostly Key Club members, showed up bright and early Tuesday morning during their school break. They helped load up SKFR vans and local citizens' trucks to deliver the Christmas gifts to the families.

After all these years doing the toy and food drive, SKFR has it down to a science: Boxes have numbered delivery cards with addresses, times and a map (just in case).

The gifts went out to people of all walks of life:

• A mother requested an early morning delivery for right after she finished her night shift at work. • The family, with elementary school aged children, who was homeless until just recently.

• A mom who had to reschedule her delivery time because her family, the one receiving the gifts of others, was spending that day serving food at the soup kitchen.

But for the firefighters and volunteers, the most important recipients of the gifts are the kids.

It takes a lot of work to organize this event, collect the donations, do the final shopping, choose which gifts go to which 460 kids and to pack 500 boxes of food.

But in the end, the memory of the work fades away with the voice of one tiny 3-year-old first questioning, "Christmas?" and then shouting "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas," to the volunteers.

"That's what makes it all worthwhile," spokeswoman Kendra Kay said, smiling.

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