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RHFD getting early start on Christmas
Richmond Hill Fire Department

While many people like to get an early start on their Christmas shopping, the Richmond Hill Fire Department is planning a six-month head start.

The department is hosting an event June 24 to raise money for its new initiative called “Operation Presents Under the Tree” that will help provide Christmas gifts for children of low-income families.

“This is our first year doing this, so we have a lot of overhead expenses, but our goal is to raise $15,000,” according to Lt. Brendon Greene. “We’ll be working with the United Way to provide the gifts and deliver them either on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.”

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 24 at J.F. Gregory Park and feature a barbeque contest, corn hole tournament, games, raffles and a “kiss the pig” booth.

Players from the Savannah Bananas baseball team will also be on hand to sign autographs and there will be bounce houses in “Axe’s Playground.” Axe is the department’s 9’6” inflatable mascot.

Admission to the event is free, but there will be entry fees for the barbeque contest and corn hole tournament. Donations will be accepted for the autographs and use of the inflatables. Those entering the barbeque contest will pay $50 for each type of meat they wish to enter and can pick from beef, chicken and pork.

Greene said those competitors will begin setting up Friday afternoon.

“We’ll have a captain’s meeting Friday evening just to make sure everyone is on the same page,” he said. “They’ll start cooking overnight and their entries will be due to the judges at 6 p.m. Saturday.”

Greene said contestants can choose whether they want to make just enough for the judges or a larger amount that they can sell. Other vendors will also be selling a variety of food and crafts.

The top raffle prize is a round of golf for four at The Ford Plantation. Greene said he thinks it will be so popular that the department will sell tickets for it up until the city’s fireworks display at J.F. Gregory on July 1.

The main sponsor for the event is the Randy Bocook Team, with EOM sponsoring Axe’s Playground. Associate sponsors include Charlie Grainger’s, The Ford Plantation, Bubba’s Bistro, Melody’s Coastal Café, Papa’s Pizza, Molly MacPherson’s, Cub Scout Pack 527, Coca Cola, The Crossroads Center and The Ice Cream Stop.

Those wishing to become a sponsor or vendor or enter one of the contests can visit for more information.

UPDATE: Greene said that the department is still accepting applications for vendors, bbq competitors and teams for the corn hole tournament. Additional activities have also been added for the day, including a live band, a car show and a zumba class. Members of the Richmond Hill Tiger Sharks, the area's new indoor arena football team, will also be on hand to meet fans and sign autographs. Greene also said that Heads in Helmets will also be present. The non-profit group specializes in bike safety for children and provides them with fitted bike helmets.

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