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Rescue Squad no longer over Toy Drive
Fred Hillis.jpg
Fred Hillis distributes toys during a Rescue Squad Toy Drive in this Southern Standard file photo.

After more than 60 years of serving the community with an annual toy drive, the Warren County Rescue Squad is passing the baton – or in this case the gift wrap.

The Rescue Squad is turning over its annual Christmas Toy Drive to the Central Baptist Association.

“The Rescue Squad has done it for 63 or 64 years best we can tell,” said Rescue Squad Chief Chad Hillis. “With the passing of Fred Hillis, it seemed like a good time to make this transition. We’ve been looking for another organization to take it over and it took us awhile to find one.”

Fred Hillis was longtime chief of the Rescue Squad and fierce advocate of the Toy Drive before his death in September 2020.

Organizing the Toy Drive is about a two-month process. It benefits hundreds of children each Christmas.

“We’d start the first Monday of November and pretty much be there every night until the distribution, which is usually the weekend before Christmas,” said Chad Hillis. “The Central Baptist Association will do a good job with it, but we’re not just going to throw it in their lap. We’ll help them out anyway we can.”

Last year the Toy Drive served about 300 families, which amounted to around 600 children. The Central Baptist Association is eager to get started and is holding sign-ups for parents in need of toys this Christmas the next two Saturdays.

Sign-ups will be held at Madison Street Baptist Church on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. noon each day. It will be drive-thru registration and parents should bring a birth certificate for their child.

“We’re still learning a lot. This is not something light that we’re taking over,” said Central Baptist Association director of missions Jim Ramsey. “This is our first year and we’ll do the best we can to help these families at Christmas.”

Just as important as getting children registered is getting toys to distribute. Any person or business who would like to make a monetary donation or a new toy donation can do so at the Central Baptist Association office, 4064 Sparta Highway. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Madison Street Baptist Church is also a drop-off location Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. noon.

The goal is to have the toy distribution Dec. 12, but a location has not been set.

For more information, call Ramsey at (931) 607-4304 or the Central Baptist Association at (931) 668-3690. Donations can be picked up if needed.