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RHFD holiday event brings joy, smiles to children with special needs
Operation Christmas Presents Under The Tree. Photo by Mark Swendra.
Allie Cox is all smiles after getting a Christmas present from Santa. Behind her is RHMS teacher Ashley Kornhaus. Photo by Mark Swendra.

It was hard to tell who was having the most fun; the children receiving cool gifts while munching on donuts and pizza, or the adults who made it happen.

Hugs and smiles lit up the room at the Richmond Hill Fire Station #1 Tuesday morning as approximately 80 school children with special needs were the guest of honor.

It was all part of the Richmond Hill Fire Department’s Operation Christmas Presents Under The Tree, a celebration, held in two parts, that provided food, presents and a visit from Santa and an elf.

In the morning’s first party, about 40 children from Richmond Hill Middle School,  McAllister and Carver elementary schools arrived with their parents and teachers to a reception featuring photo opportunities with the elf and a seat on Santa’s lap. Another party was held later in the morning honoring students from Richmond Hill primary and elementary schools.

“It means the world for us to do this,” said Richmond Hill Fire Capt. Brendon Greene, who along with other fire department personnel, as well as Bryan County Schools employees and volunteers, Mayor Russ Carpenter, City Clerk Dawnne Greene, Bryan County United Way Director Kristi Cox and local businessman/philanthropist Randy Bocook, helped organize the event and hand out food and wrapped presents.

Capt. Greene said proceeds from the annual Spring Fling, held in April, helped pay for the party and gifts. “We raised just shy of $20,000 … up from $7,000 last year,” Greene said.

In addition, the Fire Department adopted two Richmond Hill families who are struggling financially this year. They will receive a warm meal and gifts for under their trees.

Proceeds from the Spring Fling have also been used to provide monetary donations to area children battling cancer and to adopt 10 Christmas Angels.

Greene thanked the sponsors and partners who made this all possible, and wanted to get the word out that if there’s any other families struggling at this time of year, to “send them our way.”

SEE OUR PHOTO GALLERY below with 29 other pictures from the party. Click on a photo to advance.




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