By Patrick Lacombe, The Belton Journal
Every Christmas, parents around the world are busy wrapping gifts for their children, preparing meals and teaching their children about the birth of Jesus Christ. Belton is no different. However, some parents are not able to spend money on gifts because of job layoffs, a reduction of hours at work or various other reasons. But thanks to the firefighter and EMT Angels with the Belton Fire Department, economically challenged families are able to provide gifts to their children on Christmas morning.
“Today, we are giving out 90 boxes of toys to 90 families that applied,” Volunteer Firefighter Chief Timothy Euting said. “There are 250 kids in the families that otherwise wouldn’t have any Christmas gifts.
“The way it works is, we get a list of applicants from The Temple Help Center. We take donations from the community and we spend about a week making up the boxes to give out. We know the make up of the family ahead of time, so we divide the toys into gifts for boys and for girls. Each box is numbered corresponding to which family it goes to and the parents pull up and we load the gifts into their cars for them.”
The department began accepting donations just after Thanksgiving.
“We got a lot of toys, and we’re thankful for all the donations,” Sarah Trevino, Administrative Assistant at the Belton Fire Department said.
Everyone at the Fire Station was in the holiday spirit last Saturday as they loaded gifts into cars.
There was also a Belton family helping out in the spirit of Christmas giving. Cayden and his sister Destin are students at Central Texas Christian School. Their father brought them to the station to help out and learn the value of giving to others.
“It feels really good to help others that can’t help themselves,” Destin said.
When asked why they were helping out, Cayden said, “You should always put others in front of yourself.”
As the line of cars pulled into the bay at the Fire Station on Sparta Road, the recipients of the gifts thanked the Firefighters for their generosity.
One young mother from Belton, who wished to remain annonymous, expressed her thanks with a tear in her eye.
“Without this, our kids would have no Christmas gifts,” she said. “I’m so thankful for the Belton Fire Department. They are truly Christmas Angels.”
But the families aren’t the only ones who benefit from this program.
“It really makes us feel good knowing that these kids will have a Christmas,” Euting said. “We had great support from the community and local businesses this year and were able to give some really nice gifts this year.”
To find out more information on Santa Pals, contact the Temple H.E.L.P. Center at (254) 770-6842 or visit them at 102 East Central, Suite 100, in Temple.
“If a family needs help, they can apply to the Temple H.E.L.P. Center,” Fire Chief Francisco Corona said. “They must show ID and proof of income and they are screened to make sure they qualify. The Help Center then checks with other agencies to be sure that the families haven’t applied anywhere else.”