12/05/10 — Mar-Mac Firefighters take children Christmas shopping

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Mar-Mac Firefighters take children Christmas shopping

By Gary Popp
Published in News on December 5, 2010 1:50 AM

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Tyler shops with Mar-Mac firefighter Eddie Carr at Wal-Mart in Rosewood Saturday during the department's and Love Memorial's Baptist Church's annual charity event provides youths with basic necessities and a gift for their enjoyment.

The Mar-Mac Volunteer Fire Department and Love Memorial Baptist Church joined together again this year to make Christmas special for a group of Wayne County children.

The department chose 10 children from within and outside of the church for a shopping spree at Wal-Mart in Rosewood on Saturday afternoon

"We look forward to this all year," said Fire Chief Bill Harrell. "We all really like helping the kids. They aren't as lucky as a lot of other people."

The fire department began the holiday shopping program nearly 10 years ago.

"It has grown and grown every year," Harrell said, adding that the community is quick to lend a helping hand at fundraisers that support the shopping event and have enabled it to grow.

"You hardly get no "No's" out of anybody when you try to do something good for kids," Harrell said.

Robert McClure was one of firefighters who teamed up with a child for the shopping trip.

"It is all about giving," McClure said. "These are children that need a little bit of help, and we are more than welcome."

McClure and the other adults seemed to be enjoying themselves nearly as much as the children.

"This is the fun part," McClure said. "In our job, a lot of the time we see stuff that is not too fun or not too nice. This is the good stuff right here."

Jennifer Toller, youth pastor at Love Memorial Baptist Church, is one of several organizers from the church.

"The firefighters want to assist the children and families that have needs during the Christmas season," Toller said. "We get them shoes, clothes, the basics. Then we let them pick out something that they really want."

The youngsters ranged in age from 8 to 16.

"Normally, the older ones want a camera, iPod or CD player. The younger ones want toys," Toller said.

Tabitha, 16, is a member of the church's youth group and was one of the teenagers chosen for the shopping trip. She was at the event with her younger brother and grandmother.

"They help us with our clothes and anything else we need or want," she said.

"It was a big surprise. Honestly, I am surprised my family even got picked." Tabitha said. "My family was thrilled."

Tabitha's grandmother, Shirley Outlaw, was helping supervise the shopping.

"I didn't think we would get chosen with so many people needing help this year," she said.

Ms. Outlaw said she and her husband have been raising their grandchildren as their own children for nearly 12 years.

"We were blessed to get picked because my husband has been out of work. We were lucky," she said. "This is going to make a big difference in the kids' Christmas. They will be able to get something different than the school clothes I bought them. Today is the big Christmas treat for them."

Ms. Outlaw said her grandson Billy, 13, was so excited about the chance to go shopping with the fire department that he woke up at 3 a.m.

Ms. Outlaw said the fire department and the church deserve a lot of praise for wanting to help.

"You can not ask for better people. They go off and raise the money themselves, just to help the children," Ms. Outlaw said. "Without them we wouldn't be here."

One of the boys at event, Tyler, a 12-year-old, was teamed up with fireman Eddie Carr.

Tyler was a bit bashful. He seemed as excited about making a friend in firefighter Carr as he was in the shopping cart loaded with clothes and gifts.

"I am glad they have this," he said. "This is going to make my Christmas a lot different."