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Drive puts presents under trees
4 DCES Shops pic
Paramedic Brian Fox and Battalion Chief Milton Keller were among a dozen Dawson County Emergency Services personnel who volunteered last week to shop for toys. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Through a recent boot drive, Dawson County Emergency Services raised nearly $9,000 to fulfill Christmas wishes this season.

Capt. Jamerson Kerby organized the campaign, which raised money for KARE for Kids.

The local nonprofit, volunteer group provides Christmas for Dawson County children in need.

"You can just look at your own kids and try to imagine if your kid didn't have Christmas," he said. "And not only the kid, but those parents.

"It's got to hurt the parents pretty bad to not be able to provide their kids with Christmas."

KARE for Kids President Calvin Byrd said the department's effort was "perfect timing" after the program lost a previous sponsor.

"In three days one weekend, [emergency services] raised about $7,500, and then about 15 or 20 of them came out tonight to help us shop for the kids," Byrd said. "They've really helped us and these kids out."

Paramedic Brian Fox took advantage of the opportunity to encourage volunteerism. He brought 10 of his cadets from the department's Explorer's Program to help shop.

"This is basically a great example to show the children how to serve their community," he said.

Cadet Jacob Freeman said he was proud and honored to participate.

"It makes me extremely happy to be here tonight helping the community," said Freeman, a sophomore at Dawson Christian Academy.

"That means a lot to me to know that I am helping someone else that's in a worse state than me."

The department routinely holds boot drives to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Give Burns the Boot.

"The boot drives are always a good source of money, and some of the money comes back to the county," Kerby said.

"With this, 100 percent of what was collected stays in the county and helps local children."

Byrd said KARE for Kids has received holiday assistance applications for 705 children this year.

"We always have a few more that come in. We're thinking we'll have maybe 725 kids this year," he said.

The group provides specifically requested toys for the children, as well as clothing, a winter coat and new shoes.

Families also receive food for a complete Christmas meal.

Kerby said the boot drive was such a success that the department plans to also make a donation to buy turkeys or hams for the holiday meals.

"It's the time of year we need to do more things like this," he said.