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Russellville’s Helping Santa toy drive accepts applications

Each year the City of Russellville helps out at Christmas time by giving toys to families in need – dubbed the Helping Santa toy drive – and applications are now open to be eligible for toys this year.

Applications are available now through Nov. 20 at the Russellville Police Department. To apply, locals must fill out the application and provide proof of residency and verification of each child.

“We want to be sure we are able to help as many kids as possible,” said Russellville Fire Department Capt. Randy Seal. “This way we are able to verify that each child is only being applied for once and that they are all from Franklin County.”

Each child age 0-18 will receive presents based on their age category, with several large presents being drawn to see who will receive them.

“Our goal is just to make sure as many kids as possible have a good Christmas,” Seal said. “We love seeing the joy on the kids’ faces each year.”

Seal said the number of people who apply varies from year to year. Last year the toy drive helped about 200 families, but Seal said they have helped as many as 1,200, during the year of the Phil Campbell tornado.

“We try to help everyone as much as we can, but it all just depends on how much we have donated each year,” Seal said.

Seal said he worries there will not be as many toy donations this year because of COVID-19 but still wants to encourage everyone to do what they can to help out. He said donation boxes will be put out in the first few weeks of November through the second week of December.

Because of COVID-19, this year the toy drive is unable to accept used toys because it would be impossible to sanitize everything. Seal said although the toy drive cannot accept used toys, they can still accept any bikes anyone would like to donate.

Pick-up dates will be at the Russellville Fire Department from Dec. 21-23, with each area having a different pick-up day. City residents will pick up toys Dec. 21; county residents will pick up toys Dec. 22; and any remaining toys will be picked up Dec. 23.

Because of COVID-19, no one will be allowed in the fire department to pick up toys. Everyone approved will receive a number that will correspond to their order. Once numbers have been picked up, firefighters will carry toys to each vehicle.

“We know there are those who are less fortunate, and we know that everyone has bad years sometimes,” Seal said. “This year especially has been hard on a lot of people, so we want to try and make Christmas presents at least one thing the parents do not have to worry about this year.”

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