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Rescue Squad continues longstanding tradition
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Warren County Middle School Interact Club member Baylee Norrod, 12, is all smiles as she hands Chad Hillis, the chief of the Rescue Squad, a gift for a child in need. Club members donated to and volunteered at the annual Rescue Squad Toy Drive on Monday afternoon. - photo by Atlanta Northcutt

It’s not too late to grant a child the gift of a Merry Christmas as the Rescue Squad Toy Drive holds its distribution this Saturday, Dec. 21. 

The Rescue Squad currently has 517 children who will receive holiday merriment through the boxes of toys being handed out this year. The project will end Saturday when the giveaway begins at 8 a.m. 

“This drive has been a passion of our squad members for over 45 years,” says chief of the Rescue Squad Chad Hillis. “The community of Warren County is really great when it comes to donating to the kids. People have a special place in their heart for these children.”

Boxes are typically filled with five to six new toys based on each child’s age and gender. Toy and monetary donations are accepted throughout the year to create a special Christmas for children in need in the community.

“There are many less fortunate people living in our community,” says Hillis. “Everyone experiences hard times in their lives, and people really appreciate when we can help them during those times of struggle.”

At the beginning of November, applications were given to families in need. Approximately $28,000 has been raised to benefit the 2019 toy drive. Toy and monetary donations are provided by businesses, organizations, schools and local residents. 

On Monday afternoon, members of the Warren County Middle School Interact Club purchased and donated gifts with money raised through fundraisers. Club members also spent time sorting through toys and helping pack the boxes.

“The middle school Interact Club has been helping with the toy drive for about 15 years now,” says Susan Barrett, Rotary sponsor of the club. “Volunteering helps these students see there are many children in need who don’t get Christmas presents. This is one of their favorite projects, and they truly enjoy it.”

“I like helping the community and it makes me happy to know a little kid will be getting a Christmas surprise this year,” adds Maggie Sliger, 11, a member of the middle school’s Interact Club.

The Warren County Rescue Squad has approximately 22 volunteers who not only work throughout the year to obtain toys for children in need, but perform rope and swift-water rescues. The Rescue Squad also searches for lost victims and performs drowning recoveries in Warren County and throughout the state.

“The toy drive makes my holiday season complete,” says Hillis. “There’s always one family that touches your heart and really appreciates everything they’ve been given. It makes all of the hard work and time spent away from our own families worth it.”

Volunteers are at the Rescue Squad from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. each night to accept toys and donations. The organization is located at 524 Sparta Street and can be reached by calling 473-7023.