Local firefighters and EMTs spread a little bit of Christmas cheer on Dec. 17.
About 20 volunteers and three vehicles from the Manawa Rural Fire Department and Ambulance Service delivered Christmas baskets to families in need in the Manawa and Ogdensburg area.
The baskets were loaded with dry goods and other donated items, including a ham for each family.
Assistant Fire Chief Josh Smith was impressed when most of his staff volunteered to help make the deliveries.
“We had people that took vacation from their full-time jobs to come and help try to make other people have the merriest Christmas they possibly can,” Smith said. “We also had spouses and girlfriends of members volunteer their time to help others.”
Smith said he was impressed with “the commitment that everyone has to serving the community that we also protect.”
He noted the rewards go both ways.
The needy receive a basket full of food and other supplies to help make their Christmas brighter, while the volunteers receive “thank you very much” and the usual different seasons greetings wishes.
“They had people thanking them and shaking their hands,” Smith said.
“It is very nice what they do for people who can’t afford much,” said one local recipient of a Christmas basket. “It really helps us through this time of year.”
The Christmas basket program is coordinated annually by the Manawa Area Community Food Pantry.
The donations are sorted at the Manawa Masonic Center by high school students and other volunteers. The name and address of a family in need is listed on each basket.
“We have tremendous support from the community from the businesses, organizations, churches, schools and everyone who donates time, items and funds,” said Barb Baumgartner, a volunteer at the MAC food pantry.
“Without the community support and the fire and ambulance doing the deliveries, this could not happen,” Baumgartner said.
After making about 70 deliveries, the firefighters and EMTs had one more stop.
They took time to visit with the residents at Manawa Community Nursing Center.
After meeting the volunteers, each resident received a candy cane.
The visit ended with the firefighters and EMTs singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Instead of just saying “happy,” Smith wished everyone a “happy and safe” new year.
“It was so nice they could stop here on their busy schedule,” said MCNC Administrator Joy Miller.
“It was very kind of them to do that,” said Ruby Peotter.
“It is a good idea, so we get to know our local firefighters and EMTs,” said Mel Pethke.
“We were told by many of the staff from the nursing home that our visit put some bigger than usual smiles on many of their faces,” Smith said.
There were also smiles on the faces of the volunteers as they returned to their trucks, dreaming of next year’s deliveries.