ARLINGTON — For more than two decades, the Arlington Fire Department has been delighting local children, and helping the Arlington Community Food Bank stock its shelves for the holidays, through its annual "Santa Run" food drive, and from Dec. 6-15, Arlington firefighters and community volunteers will again be escorting Santa Claus on a festively decorated fire truck through several of the town's neighborhoods during the evenings.
Santa and his team will be collecting non-perishable food and cash donations for the Arlington Community Food Bank from 5-8:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 6-8 p.m. on Sundays, as well as from Monday, Dec. 9, through Thursday, Dec. 12.
"This event is the largest annual contributor to the Arlington Community Food Bank, collecting approximately 5,000 pounds of food annually," said Arlington Fire Capt. Dave Kraski, who noted that last year's totals hit more than 6,000 pounds of food and $500 in cash donations. "It takes a minimum of eight or nine volunteers a night, but there are many nights when we have upwards of 15 or 20."
Cascade Valley Hospital Community Relations Coordinator Jennifer Egger noted that this number includes not only Arlington firefighters, but also employees of the city of Arlington and Cascade Valley Hospital.
While the Arlington Santa Run's website at www.santarun.net has been live for a few years, offering PDF maps of the Santa Run routes for each evening, Egger encouraged Arlington residents to "like" the Santa Run's new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/afdsantarun for further information on the event.
"The existing website has been a great way to let the community know where Santa will be, but we'd love to see people posting their pictures of the Santa Run on our Facebook page this year," said Egger, who reminded the community of the reason for the event by citing the Arlington Community Food Bank's especially pressing needs during this time of year. "Cash donations are greatly appreciated, since the Food Bank has resources for bulk and discount buying, that can make a little money go very far."
Egger pointed out that cash and food contributions to the Santa Run stay within the Arlington community.
"Your donation goes right to your friends and neighbors who may need a little extra help during the holidays," Egger said. "Our community has a tremendous heart for giving, and this is a simple and fun way to participate."
Egger also relayed a message from Santa himself, who looks forward to seeing as many kids as he can during this year's Santa Run.
"He'd like everyone to come out, say hello and get a candy cane from him when they hear the fire truck coming," Egger said. "We'd love to fill the Food Bank with enough supplies not only for the holidays, but also for the coming year."
Before he starts the Santa Run, Cascade Valley Hospital will be hosting Santa Claus on Friday, Dec. 6, for free photos from 5-6:30 p.m. Visitors can pick up cookies and hot cider, and drop off donations of non-perishables for the Food Bank during this event as well.