Community Christmas Chest needs donors, volunteers

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By Shaina Stockton, Staff

The Galax Volunteer Fire Department announced in October that it will once again sponsor the Community Christmas Fund that it oversaw 70 years ago.
Now that the holidays are getting closer, the department is looking to the community for help bringing the spirit of Christmas to hundreds local families.

“While we are spearheading the event, it is up to our community to make this happen,” said Fire Chief David Hankley in an interview with The Gazette on Monday.
The fire department was given the reins this year by the Galax Y’s Men Club, which had sponsored the food drive for the past 30 years. After consideration by the members of the club, they decided to pass the tradition back to where it originally began over 70 years ago.  
Not wasting any time, the fire department has settled back in with the program. Members have announced a goal of $30,000, which will be used to bring food boxes to approximately 550 local families, each containing $55 worth of food.
According to Grayson, Carroll and Galax Social Services representatives, there is a greater need for the drive this year due to the combined factors of a sluggish economy and the number of families with loved ones who are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Families in need of food baskets should submit an application at their local Social Services office from Dec. 2-13.
The department will be able to deliver boxes anywhere in its normal coverage area, which includes parts of Carroll and Grayson counties. “If you have a 236 number, you are probably eligible,” said Fire Captain and Recruitment and Retention Officer Mike Ayers.
Volunteer firefighter Charles Cox will take over as chairman of the project this year, bringing the responsibility to a new generation. Charles is the son of Gene Cox, chairman of the Galax Y’s Men Club.
He told The Gazette that he appreciates and encourages the continued participation from individuals, churches, clubs, businesses and schools that made the food drive a success in previous years. “We have always met our goals, because our community is so involved,” he said.
While the fire department will gladly accept donations from anyone willing to give, Hankley noted that the campaign does not solicit donations from businesses. “We have an emphasis on community... individuals,” he said.
In addition to donations, the fire department will also need volunteers to help pack the boxes, just like in previous years. “We will pack boxes at the fire station this year,” Hankley confirmed, instead of the U.S. Army Reserve armory as in years past. Packing will be done on Dec. 19, in time for delivery on Dec. 22.
The annual radio broadcast will kick the project into gear at Magic Mart in Galax on Dec. 8 from 2-4:30 p.m. Radio stations WWWJ-1360 AM and WBRF-98.1 FM will carry a live broadcast of the program. Activities will include fire trucks, Santa and his miniature horses, and a few large items that will be auctioned off throughout the afternoon.
Cox and members of the department are looking forward to continuing the food drive that allows even more families to experience the true meaning of Christmas. “This is a total community effort, and folks take pride in giving what they can afford to the worthwhile project. It is gratifying to live in a community that does care for others,” he said.
Donations for the food drive can be sent to: GVFD Community Christmas Food Fund, P.O. Box 330, Galax, Va. 24333. Checks should be made payable to: The Community Christmas Fund.