Waxahachie Firefighters are gearing up for their annual Toys for Kids drive with a goal to make sure each child in need across the community will have a gift to unwrap on Christmas morning.

Toys for Kids coordinator Julio Hernandez stated he is thankful for the support the toy drive has received over the years from the community. He shared that help is needed again this year.

“For us, the importance is really looking past what we all have and helping those that are in need. The holiday season has always been about helping others and making sure that we can help those that are less fortunate,” Hernandez said. “The city of Waxahachie always comes out strong, and we always get plenty of toys. The families that get the toys are always really appreciative. The fire department family always comes through, and their families come through.”

Hernandez stated the work to put on the toy drive can be overwhelming at times, but it is worth it to know that you have impacted a person’s life. He added that he is thankful for the support from the fire administration, which makes the toy drive possible.

The fire department’s toy drive aids families after the application deadline for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program has passed. Applications for the fire department’s toy drive are available at the Salvation Army, which is located at 620 Farley St. in Waxahachie. No applications are taken at the fire department.

When applying, residents need to bring identification, identification of the children that live with them (such as a birth certificate), and a utility bill.

Last year, the Toys for Kids campaign and the Salvation Army Angel Tree program combined to help about 440 families across Ellis County.

Organizers kindly request new, unwrapped toys for infants, all the way up to 14-year-old children. Donation items not accepted include stuffed animals and clothing.

“The oldest kids are the hardest ones to come by, especially in this day and age. About the age of 13, it gets tougher. We always ask for anything that is age specific such as crafts. We always try to accommodate the best we can,” Hernandez said. “I look forward to heading this up again. It is going to be a lot of work, but it is going to be worth it in the end. I know that Waxahachie will come through and help the fire department."

Hernandez stated one of his favorite parts of the drive is seeing his fellow firefighters get into the spirit of giving with the excitement they have for helping others.

Toy donation sites are at Station 1 located at 408 W. Main Street, Station 2 located at 1601 Cleaver Street, and Station 3 located at 200 YMCA Drive. Monetary donations can be dropped off at the fire department administration building, located at 407 Water Street. Checks need to be made out to the “Waxahachie Fire Department Toy Drive.”

Hernandez stated that all the monetary donations go into a fund that is managed by the city’s finance department. These funds are used toward the end of the drive to purchase toys the drive needs to help families. Leftover funds are held in the account for the next year.

Donations of toys are taken up until the distribution on Dec. 15.

Anyone with questions about the toy drive can contact Hernandez through his department email at jhernandez@waxahachiefire.org.