Amanda Hammon, Appeal Staff Writer

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December 18, 2001
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Firefighters are Santa for a day

To his fellow firefighters, Ken Engels is "Santa."

Since 1976, Engels has worked to make sure Carson City children receive new toys and clothing for Christmas.

"All I've ever wanted to do was have this program be a success," Engels said.

He got his wish. This year, the Carson City Firefighters Association spent more than ever -- $4,000 -- to help the Salvation Army fill the Christmas wish lists of over 300 needy families.

"The firefighters do all the work. They raise all the money; they shop for the toys," Salvation Army Capt. Amanda Mitchell said. "If they didn't do it, we would have to scramble to fill the need. I meet all the needs of the kids, and specific needs at that."

About 10 firefighters beat Mitchell to Kmart on Monday to start the holiday shopping.

A "rookie Barbie hunter," Bryon Hunt spent his third year of Christmas shopping in charge of finding Barbie and her accessories. He said shopping for the needy is a fun way to help considering "we usually help people in not fun ways."

"It's just that we love to help people who don't get the things we get," Hunt said. "You get to be a kid again for a day, and you get to give something to somebody who wouldn't get anything."

Capt. Ed Young was in charge of finding board games and "the little eye-ball thing from ..."

Young later found out he was searching for Mikey and Sully, figures from Disney's Monsters, Inc.

"I've been doing this for a lot of years. It's good to know the toys we're buying go to needy kids," he said.

Dan Park brought his wife, Cheryl, along on the shopping trip to help him hunt for clothes for a teenage girl.

"This is a chance for use to give back to the community and give to people who need it," Park said.

Cheryl said the thought of spending $4,000 was a bit overwhelming.

"There are so many needy people out there," she said. "It's great that there are associations that can do things like this."

Capt. John Bergstrom said the firefighters' efforts were reflective of the community's willingness to donate to them after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"People have poured out their hearts and wallets to us," Bergstrom said. "This is just a small portion of what they gave to us."

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Dec 18, 2001 12:00AM Published Dec 18, 2001 02:33AM Copyright 2001 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.