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Heroes and Helpers brighten Christmas in Douglas County

Wednesday's event enabled 17 kids to buy gifts for their families.

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Target was the site of the annual Heroes and Helpers event on Wednesday, Dec. 14.
Travis Gulbrandson / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA – There was a line of fire trucks parked outside of Target on the night of Wednesday, Dec. 14, but it wasn't because of any fire-related emergency.

It's because that was the night of the Heroes and Helpers event, which provides $100 to children in need to help them buy Christmas presents for their families.

The kids are accompanied by several firefighters as they do their shopping.

"It's pretty cool, because a lot of these kids have no way to buy any Christmas presents," said Karin Anderson, one of the organizers of the event. "We even had some that didn't have vehicles that we brought here tonight. It's really nice that we're back in person so we can actually do it in the store. It means a lot more for them to pick out their gifts than for us to go get them online."

Over the past couple of years, the event had not been held in-person due to the pandemic, but last week the aisles were full of firefighters helping the kids pick that perfect gift.

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"It's really fun walking around with the kids and picking out gifts because they're pretty excited," Anderson said. "They love the idea of shopping with a firefighter, and the fire trucks are lined up outside."

Wednesday's event enabled 17 kids to buy gifts for their families, Anderson said.

"We started with one from every school, and we had a few schools that didn't have anybody … so we just added those to others. We had quite a few where we were able to do two kids," she said.

The schools chose which students would participate, Anderson said.

The event was organized by a number of volunteers, including Anderson, Paulynn Terhirk, Becca Eisel, Kelsey Bitzan and a Target representative.

Organizations that donated funds included the Douglas County Fire Chiefs Association, Target and the Forada Fire Department.

All but one of the fire departments in Douglas County participated in the event, as well as LifeLink and the Holmes City First Responders.

Food was donated for the event by Jimmy John's.

Travis Gulbrandson covers several beats, including Osakis School Board and Osakis City Council, along with the Brandon-Evansville School Board. His focus will also be on crime and court news.
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