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Redlands Firefighters were honored again this year to take the lead on the local Spark of Love Toy Drive, and are happy to announce that more than 1,000 local youth benefitted from the hard work and generosity of the community and the drive partners.

For much of November and December, Redlands Firefighters donated their time and talent toward collecting toys and other items for local youth who may have otherwise felt forgotten at Christmas.

Those who watch the City of Redlands Public Access Channel or have liked the Redlands Fire Department Facebook page may have seen the public service announcement of the drive, which was scripted and produced by Capt. Rob Sandberg, Al Stevens and Redlands TV video technician Cheryl Williams. The PSA featured Santa Claus himself sliding down the infamous fire pole, collecting the donated toys from the firefighters and readying to deliver them.

Firefighters also partnered with the “Frogmen in the Morning” from KFRG 95.1 FM at Citrus Plaza for on-site collection events held each Friday of December. The KFRG presence was a huge draw and vital to driving the promotion and ultimate success of this year’s drive.

Beginning the first Friday in December, Redlands Family Service Association opened their facility on 612 Lawton St. to allow parents to “shop” from the donated toys and gifts for their children. Each of those Fridays in December offered the opportunity to more than 75 families.  

On Dec. 14, the Boys & Girls Club of Redlands invited local youth to their annual holiday event at the Burrage Mansion. The children met Santa Claus and were assisted by Redlands Firefighters while choosing a toy and participating in holiday activities.

Fire Engineer Don Trujillo led the local effort, and said the department is humbled to serve Redlands children and families. “We love serving our community and are so grateful for the opportunity as well as the generosity of all those who partnered with us and especially of those who donated. It is a great joy for us to play a small part in this true community effort,” Trujillo said.

The Spark of Love Toy Drive is held throughout Southern California, and 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of this endeavor, which has provided more than 7 million toys to underserved children.

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