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December 6, 2013

Sparky’s Kids-Geared up and anticipating more than year before

Live Oak — Live Oak Fire Department Safety and Training Officer Alan Bedenbaugh and the LOFD are already in high gear for their annual drive for Toys for Sparky’s Kids, a program designed to provide children in Suwannee County with toys for Christmas. The program began on Nov. 25 and will end Dec. 20 when all bags of toys have been distributed. According to Bedenbaugh, as of the morning of Dec. 4, they had 203 people signed up to receive toys and anticipate more than three times that number before it’s finished.

“We did 587 last year and I have a feeling will do more than that,” said Bedenbaugh. “People start calling in April.”

People have begun making requests much earlier than they have in recent years. He said it was a bit difficult for him to talk about or give anyone any kind of information eight months before the event. He said he and the firemen were in the beginning process of arranging the toys to get some sense of order of what they have and how many, and for still-to-come donated items to already have their designated place.

There were already quite a few toys in the LOFD attic, but this was just the beginning. In the next week or so, there will be literally 3-4 times as many. On a couple of the tables there were about three dozen bags that didn’t hold toys, but food.

“This came from an individual and I can’t mention his name because he said if I were to mention his name, he’ll never help me again,” said Bedenbaugh. “He helps me out a lot. He calls me.”

Bedenbaugh said the food was already spoken for and would go to other agencies or ministries to feed mainly the disabled and elderly. The bags of food were primarily made to feed at least two senior citizens with all the trimmings of a Christmas dinner minus the turkey or ham. He said the man also donated a bunch of food at Thanksgiving and helped folks during the devastation caused by TS Debby with the provision that he again remain anonymous. Bedenbaugh wanted to recognize the man for his kindness and generosity, but was told, “I don’t care about me being recognized, I just care about people. God has blessed me in my business and I want to give it back.”

Bedenbaugh shared a similar view that when he sees those less fortunate, he feels a great compassion to do something to make a difference in their lives.

Anyone wanting to donate to Toys for Sparky’s Kids, can bring toys to drop boxes at different locations in the county, including at the Suwannee Democrat at 211 East Howard St. The LOFD is also sponsoring a car show during Christmas on the Square where toys can also be donated. There will be no drawing or prizes, but folks are encouraged to come out to show off their cars and to support a worthy cause. The admission for the car show is a $10 toy to be given to the children. For more information, contact LOFD at 386-362-1313.

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