Firefighters' toy drive under way, but not over the phone

October 26, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

Boyle County residents who are putting on their Santa hats early this year to help the Danville Fire Department's annual Christmas Toy Program should be aware there may be other similar agencies out there trying to take advantage of local generosity.

Fire Chief Mike Thomas said the department has received calls from local residents wondering if Danville firefighters are behind phone solicitations asking for money to help fire departments. While the Danville department is collecting money, toys and other items for its annual drive to help needy families, it is not making any pitches over the phone, Thomas said.

"The Danville Fire Department does not solicit monetary donations over the phone," Thomas said. "We accept money for the toys program, but we don't target private citizens by telephone calls."

Thomas said a statewide firefighters' organization often uses telephone solicitations across Kentucky to raise money. While the organization is legitimate, Thomas said the money it collects usually goes to help larger fire departments in the state and does not necessarily come back to local departments.


"They say they influence legislation that helps all firefighters, but they primarily work for members on the larger, paid departments in the state," he said.

The chief recommended that local residents who are wary of phone calls seeking money on behalf of firefighters ask the callers what percentage of the donations they raise go to fire departments and how much goes to marketing firms making the calls, and how much of the money is returned to local departments.

Meanwhile, the Danville department's annual toy drive is well under way. The department is accepting new and gently used toys; tape, boxes and wrapping paper; and money that will be used to purchase new toys, winter clothing and infant car seats for those in need. Collection canisters will soon be placed at local businesses to gather extra change at check-out counters.

"You'd be surprised what a boot full of nickels and pennies can buy at Christmas,' Thomas said.

Applications from needy families will not be accepted until mid-November.

Toy donations can be made to either the department's Central or South End fire stations, and checks can be sent to: Christmas Toy Program 2004, P.O. Box 670, Danville, KY, 40423-0670.

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