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Toys for fire victims set to be distributed

As soon as the Angora fire began devouring South Lake Tahoe homes, 8-year-old Ashlee Smith went into action.

Ashlee, the daughter of Storey County firefighter Matt Smith, who spent a lot of time fighting that fire, collected a whole tractor-trailer full of toys and clothing for children affected by the blaze.

“She said everyone always focuses on the moms and dads,” said her mom, Ericka.

The Smiths collected toys, books, kids’ clothing, anything for children at Ericka’s office, Custom Aire, in Sparks.

Ashlee said she wanted to collect items because she had a fire at her house in 2005.

“I know what it feels like,” she said.

Unfortunately, after collecting all that stuff, the Smiths are having trouble distributing it.

Ericka reports a huge community response and a large amount of donated toys are stored in a semi-trailer, courtesy of Oak Harbor Freight Lines.

She said the family was originally going to distribute the items a week after the fire began, but evacuation sites wouldn’t accept any more items, and most organizations only wanted monetary donations.

“Ashlee wanted to make sure that the toys that she collected went to the kids of the fire,” Ericka said. “She made me promise that we would keep all of the toys until we could find a place that would get them to the kids. We have stored the toys at our shop and in the trailer since the fire.”

The Food Bank of South Lake Tahoe is helping out by allowing the Smiths to bring the trailer to a farmers market which will be held on Wednesday.

All children affected by the fire can get toys and clothing at the farmers market.

“Ashlee would love to meet the children that have had their worlds turned upside down,” Ericka said. “She is hoping that her toy drive will help put smiles back on their faces.”

Ashlee, volunteers from the food ban, Reno Rodeo Foundation and employees of Custom Aire will hand out the toys all day at the farmers market.

Ashlee wants to collect toys to give to any child affected by a fire in the future, Ericka said.

Anyone interested in helping out may call Ericka and Ashlee Smith at (775) 331-3337.