But there was no bad guy to catch, no fire to put out.
This time Gordon County and Calhoun’s first responders were simply acting as Good Samaritans to a group of kids in need.
Firefighters, state patrolmen, deputies, police officers and national guardsmen took 45 underprivileged kids from Gordon County to have their pictures made with Santa Claus at Home Depot before leading them on a shopping spree at Wal-Mart.
For at least one day, the kids lived like contestant winners, dignitaries and stars in their own parade.
It all began with Gordon County Fire Department firefighter Marshall Greene, who wanted to find a way to provide Christmas presents to disadvantaged children in Gordon County Schools.
“Here at Gordon County, we had always sponsored a family but you never saw the family, didn’t know who you were buying for … it was very impersonal,” Greene said.
He wanted to put faces with names and really make a difference in someone’s life.
Greene had the support of his chain of command, but it was up to him to get the idea off the ground.
Greene began talking to his fellow firefighters and they were behind him.
As the days passed, he began employing the services of police officers, patrolmen, deputies and the National Guard, but there was still a lot of money to be raised.
“I didn’t realize what kind of challenge it was going to be,” Greene said.
Greene and company raised around $9,000, which covered expenses and the shopping trip for the kids, but it was not easy.
“We started out raffling a gun but we started $400 in the hole because we had to buy the gun,” Greene said. “But we were able to raffle it off for $1,000.”
The Calhoun Rodeo volunteered its facilities for fundraisers and Pepsi donated funds and products.
“It has grown so much,” Greene said. “We hope to do even better next year.”
The fun begins
The kids began their day on Friday with breakfast at the Gordon County Fire Department headquarters and then took a school bus to Home Depot.
Police and sheriff’s cars led the processional, their sirens blaring and lights flashing.
At Home Depot, each of the kids had their picture taken with Santa Claus. The fire department presented each child with a card containing their picture with Santa.
The caravan continued across town to Wal-Mart, where each child was partnered with a member of the first responders.
The duos hit the store with simple instructions: buy the kids anything they want — but use common sense.
Needless to say, there was a bit of a traffic jam in the toy department.
Shoppers gawked and complete strangers walked up to several firefighters and handed them wads of cash.
Outside, Greene’s horse trailer began filling with bags full of toys, bikes and other gadgets.
After shopping, the kids received a Chick-fil-A lunch and headed back to the station to take their presents and memories home.
“I am so very proud of each of those who worked so hard to make this event possible,” said Lt. Bo Nicholson of the Gordon County Fire Department. “The support we have received from the community and local businesses has been greatly appreciated. The joy it brought the children touched each one of us involved. I can’t wait until next year.”
If you would like to make donations for next year, bring them to the Gordon County Fire Department headquarters at 400 Belwood Road, SE across from the Calhoun Premium Outlets.