Peru, Indiana - The Peru Fire Department is preparing a special Christmas for a record number of Miami County children this year.
The PFD has been utilizing donations and funds from fundraisers to help make Christmas special for Miami County students for years. In recent years, gifts have been given to families at the department’s Christmas breakfast. Forty children will receive a better Christmas from the PFD’s efforts this year, which is nearly double the number of children served last year.
“When you see the need of a young child, and you know they’re not going to have anything under the tree, it just melts your heart to know you helped somebody,” said Peru Fire Department Assistant Chief Robert Daine.
Daine said various fundraisers, including the PFD’s 5K run, and donations from local businesses contribute the funds that the department is able to spend on necessities for children. Daine said firefighters and their spouses shop for children based on what the parents list as the child’s needs.
PFD Firefighter Stacey Swinford said the PFD only buys necessities and food for Christmas dinner. Toys are provided through a partnership with Toys for Tots.
“We try to make it as simple as possible for the families,” she said. “(What we want them to) know they have what the children need, food, and plenty of presents on Christmas.”
Guidance counselors from local schools help the PFD identify who has the highest needs, Daine said, and they look for families who have “a quiet need.”
Daine said that he knows 40 children are only a fraction of the local children who are in need, so they don’t repeat families year-to-year.
“You know you're doing good, but there are more needs than you can fill,” he said. “You do the best with what you got.”
At the PFD’s Christmas breakfast, children are able to interact with Santa, and the firefighters send parents home with the gifts and food box.
“It’s really cool to see the kids excited to see Santa,” Swinford said. “I get joy out of that — seeing kids light up.”
Daine said, “After the breakfast, there’s not a dry eye in the place.”
“Ninety-nine percent” of the donations for the fundraiser come from local businesses, Daine said, and Swinford said donations “don’t go unnoticed.”
Local businesses that donated this year include First Bank of Berne, Dukes Memorial Hospital, Dukes Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, B & D Manufacturing, City Tire, Decision Information Systems, Parsons Roofing, Mike Anderson Auto Sales, DeRozier’s Bakery, Gallahan Oil Co., Healthy Hoosier Oil, Hunt Family Farms, Touloukian Supply, State Farm: Joe McMillian, David Zandi, DDS; Draper Auto Sales, Madden Motors, Bowman Heating & Cooling, MC Contracting, B&K Auto Sales, Mennel Milling, Bellar Construction, Schwartz Ford, Peru Miami Lodge, Gold Medal Awards, The Farris Wheel, Harmon Photography, City Lawn, Miami Trucking, Black’s Lawncare, Finer Details, A&A Screenprinting, and many others who wished to remain anonymous.
For those interested in helping with the PFD’s Christmas drive, monetary donations can be brought to the fire station for next year, and volunteers are welcome for the breakfast on December 16. Call the PFD for more details at (765) 472-2410.