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Firefighters to host annual Christmas party for kids

ALTONA - A tradition dating back at least 40 years, the Altona Volunteer Fire Department's Children's Christmas Party continues to see more and more kids every year.

"Last year, we had a record number of people come to it," said fire department president Jamie Labarge. "And, with the economy the way it is, I'm sure we'll have a big turnout again."

This year, with the help of the Adirondack Riders Motorcycle Club, based in Altona, the planning committee for the event has managed to fill the upstairs office of the fire department with toys.

"The Adirondack Riders went out and they've collected all kinds of toys for the kids, and they've also taken donations," explained Labarge. "And, actually, a couple of the committee members went and purchased more toys with donations."

The ARMC joined the fire department's cause two years ago when they decided to raise money and collect toys through a summer bike ride across the North Country.

"They heard what we did, what we do for the community and they wanted to help out and they wanted to pitch in," said Labarge. "[The toy ride] was a success and they like doing it, so, they did it again this year."

The Christmas party will be held at the Altona Town Hall, 480 Devils Den Road, next Saturday, Dec. 20, from 12-2 p.m.

"It's at the Altona Town Hall because of the fact that it got too big for our meeting room in the fire department," said Labarge.

During the event, children will walk through a line to see Santa, then receive one gift.

"[The toys] are anything from action figures to games," Labarge said. "Chess games, checker games, all that kind of stuff."

"It was always meant to be something for our local community, but year after year, we're getting more and more from outside [Altona] and that's fine, too," said Labarge. "As long as we have the people that are willing to donate and get the stuff, we're glad to see the people, we're glad to see the kids and the smiles on their faces."

Children at the Christmas party, aside from receiving a toy, will also get coloring books and fruit, and the fire department will provide pizza, chicken wings, juice and the ladies auxiliary will bake cookies for dessert.

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