Oshkosh fire department begins holiday toy drive

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY)- Over the next couple of weeks the Oshkosh Fire Department will be parading through each neighborhood in the city taking toy donations to help out families for Christmas.

Santa Claus rides into Oshkosh on a vintage fire truck to encourage donations of toys and food for needy families in the community (WBAY photo)

The drive kicked off Monday night with flashing lights and loud sirens that put most people on notice as fire engines made their way thru the city's north side.

"Last year we collected and helped out over five hundred families and every year we collect more and more it seems and we do our best to hit all areas of the city so everybody can get an experience with the fire truck and Santa going thru their own community," said Brian Blaha of the Oshkosh Fire Dept.

Everything collected goes to the Salvation Army, and it's had a huge impact.

Since 2010 nearly 40,000 pounds of food has been collected, on top of 26,000 toys, and more than $19,000 in cash.

Marty Norris of the Oshkosh Salvation Army added,"Tonight our toys go to our storage building which later in the week will be sorted out by size and family, age group. Then next week is when the actual toy give out is taking place."

For many of the people who line the streets to make a donation, this event is a tradition, and they like the fact, that all the toys stay right here in the community.

"It's for the children and for the people who need a little help during the Christmas season and we enjoy doing this every year. It makes you feel good," said Peggy Shaffer of Oshkosh.

Rod Peksa of Oshkosh said, "We've come from Milwaukee and I've never experienced anything like this. So it's good to see the fellas out here and families and it's an enjoyable way to help the community."

Other dates include:
Thursday, December 5th-- Station 18, northeast side of the city
Monday, December 9th-- Station 16, west side of the city
Tuesday, December 10th-- Station 15, central city
Thursday, December 12th-- Station 14, south side of the city