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Santa's Helpers help at the Fire Hall

Santa is teaming up with the fire department this Christmas as they raise money to help families in need.

Santa is teaming up with the Lac La Biche County Firefighters' Society this Christmas as they raise money and awareness to help families in need.

Members of the group were busy on Saturday wrapping presents and food donations that would be delivered to 125 needy families.  The delivery of the hampers is an important service, and something the firefighters society takes seriously.

“Our goal is just to help provide for families in need during the Christmas time with our food hampers and toy hampers,” says society member and organizer Erin Wallace.

Wallace explains that the local Santa's Helpers group created more than 20 years ago and is a way of helping less fortunate families in the region and sharing the community and Christmas spirit. When it first began, volunters were creating 30 to 50 hampers of food and toys for local families. Thisy year, more than 125 hampers are being created and delivered.

The event gets its donations from residents and businesses, food and toy drives, a radiothon and a downtown 'boot'campaign where firefighters help to collect funds by approaching motorists to donate, explains Natasha Downes, another organizer.

This year the campaigns are hoped to raise $20,000. As of last Friday, they had raised just a little over $17,000.

The funraising and awareness campaign for the Santa's Helpers program kicked off earlier in December with the Santa's Helpers  busy with their open house event at the main Lac La Biche firehall. But the hot chocolate, hot dog bonfires, street hockey, Santa photos and activities at the open house are just one part of the overall campaign put on by the volunteer group that has been helping the area's less fortunate since the 1990s.

Cory Javier and his family attended the Santa's Helpers fire hall event, and say they have been coming almost every year, and they enjoy having events like these because it gives them a chance to do something together.

“I remember they used to have a train ride that you could go on, and it would drive you up and down the length of the tracks behind main street,” said Javier when asked what his favourite memory is about Santa Helpers.

Although this year's firehall event saw a reduction in attendance — down more than half from last year, Wallace is still hopeful the donations will come through.

She says Santa's Helpers are still optimistic about reaching their donations goal. In the days leading up to Christmas Day, she is encouraging the community to donate if they can.  More information on the Santa's Helpers program can be found by clicking here