Last year's toy drive brought in lots of toys and gifts that went out with Christmas hampers.

Firefighters assist Santa

Firefighters toy drive is ongoing, but the big collection day will be at A&W on Dec. 12.

Once again Castlegar’s firefighters are busy collecting toys for this year’s Community Harvest Food Bank Christmas hampers. The annual toy drive began in 1982 and has been growing ever since. In 1998 the Castlegar Fire Department teamed up with Castlegar A&W to create a special day for everyone to bring their donations in to a central location.

Firefighters will be at A&W on Saturday Dec. 12 between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The uniformed firefighters will be assisting A&W staff with their duties while collecting new unwrapped toys. The partnership has been successful and Deputy Fire Chief Sam Lattanzio thinks it is great way for the department members to connect with the community. “We get to talk and thank people for their generosity and bringing toys in for the cause,” he said.

Anyone bringing a new toy to A&W will also be thanked with a coupon good for a free Teen Burger and drink. Sparky the fire safety dog and the A&W bear will be making guest appearances.

Toys or cash donations can also be dropped off at the fire hall weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or at A&W during operating hours. Along with the toys, items for older children and teenagers are also encouraged.

The piles of toys have already been accumulating thanks to two successful events that have already taken place. Castlegar Golf Club hosted a Christmas in September event which saw toys and cash donations collected by Santa as he arrived in a fire engine. The Selkirk Saints held a toy toss event at a recent game where attendees were encouraged to bring a toy and then toss it onto the ice when the Saints scored their first goal.