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franklin county times

Annual Helping Santa Toy Drive continues to see strong community support

The Russellville Fire and Police departments, along with many individuals, civic groups and businesses in the community, came together once again for this year’s Helping Santa toy drive.

Monetary donations, along with toys, were accepted at a number of locations around Russellville leading up to Christmas. It’s a collection event that continues to show what can be accomplished when many people work together to make things happen, the goal being to ensure no child in Russellville – from newborns through age 15 – goes without Christmas gifts.

“We appreciate all the donations the residents of Russellville gave to make the drive successful,” said RPD Chief Hargett, “and we thank Capt. Seal for taking the lead with this event each year.”

The Helping Santa Toy Drive is Russellville Fire Capt. Randy Seal’s baby, and he has watched the way it reaches people year after year.

“This year and last, donations have been up,” said Seal, “and we have been able to give each kid a little more than in past years.

“Every year, I think we’re not going to be able to do as much as the year before, but every year, in the end, the donations start pouring in, and we have more than enough,” he added. “This year, we wound up with around 250 signing up for assistance.”

Seal noted there were some big donations in this year’s program, including several bicycles. Toys were divided into age categories. Families pulled up, and volunteers from the fire and police departments loaded bags of toys into the vehicles.

Seal explained that among those who helped with the project were youth volunteers from the Franklin County Junior Leadership program, as well as the youth group at Calvary Baptist Church in Russellville.

“They helped us shop for toys, and we appreciate everything they did to make this event as special as possible,” said Seal. “While we were shopping, some people came up to us and gave donations when they found out what we were doing, and it’s always heartwarming to see that kind of support.”

“We’re grateful the Junior Leaders had the opportunity to help as Santa’s elves,” said Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Director Cassie Medley. “This toy drive is one of the most rewarding service opportunities they get the chance to be involved with.”

Seal said it takes everyone working together to make it happen. “We couldn’t get this done each year without the help we receive from the Russellville Police Department, as well as support from the mayor and city council.”

While the drive was going on, one area family suffered from a house fire. Seal said everyone came together to chip in on monetary donations, gift cards, clothes, toys and other things to help the family recover from the loss and have a better Christmas.

“We’re a community, and we help each other,” said Seal. “It’s about showing our love for others.”

For Seal, it’s not just about helping once a year. “Being able to give back is a way of showing our love for people,” he said. “We should do our best to show our love for others not only during the holidays but all throughout the year.”