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Arlington firefighters, Santa team up to collect food

 

December 6, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Ashlynn Larsen, center, along with Malya Larsen, left, and Danny Larsen meet with Santa Claus during the first day of the Arlington Fire Department's Santa Run on Dec. 1.

Santa Claus and the Arlington Fire Department began visiting local neighborhoods on Dec. 1 as part of the department's annual Santa Run.

The 28th annual event, which runs until Dec. 10, brings Christmas music, Santa Claus and a decorated fire engine through various residential neighborhoods around Arlington.

It is also meant to collect food for the Arlington Community Food Bank.

"We collect food and monetary donations to give to the food bank in town," said Nich Sacha, a firefighter/paramedic with the Arlington Fire Department and one of the organizers of this year's Santa Run.

Sacha said that the department usually collects around 7,000 to 8,000 pounds of food with around $1,000 to $2,000 in cash donations throughout the event.

It's also a good way for the department to get to know Arlington locals, said Sacha.

"This event is a huge thing for our community," he said. "They expect us to come out and look forward to it. It's the biggest way for the community to see who we are," said Sacha.

The firefighters meet a lot of people around town while driving through the neighborhoods. Although the fire department doesn't reach all the Arlington communities, they try to visit many neighborhoods, and oftentimes community members who are missed drive to visit when the Santa Run is nearby.

"People come down from their community when we don't hit their spots," said Sacha.

Local Brandon Klein said he sees the fire department drive next to his home every year.

"It's a great event to drum up some food for the food drive," he said.

"It's fun," said Brandon's wife Sherel Klein. "It's nice that they come to us so that we don't have to go out."

Firefighters said they enjoyed getting out to meet locals as well.

"Not every department gets to decorate one of their ladder trucks and go out with Santa to interface with the community like we do," said Sam Johnston, probationary firefighter with the department.

"What we're doing it for is a really good cause as well," he said.

Sacha said the department doesn't do as many events with locals as they want to.

"Unfortunately, we don't do a whole lot of public events, we want to do more," he said. "We used to, it's just hard when we don't have the people," he added, referring to increasing call volume and responsibilities of the department's employees.

Probationary firefighter Craig Monson said that it helps "get everyone in the Christmas spirit ... and I know the community really enjoys it."

Many of the firefighters try and collect as much food as they can, said Monson.

"It's cool to see each shift have their own little battle for who gathers the most food, it's just a friendly competition," he said.

For local firefighters it's a lot of work setting up the fire engine and volunteers.

"It's a long month of preparation, we have to put the lights on the truck and get all of our Santa stuff out," said Sacha.

This year the department is using one of its ladder trucks instead of its old fire truck, which will make for a bigger display this year.

"We won't have this fire truck next year because we're selling it, it's kind of a one and done deal," said Sacha.

The Santa Run routes haven't changed in about five years, said Sacha, and as the city continues to grow the department may have to condense some or add different routes in upcoming years he added.

The fire department will continue visiting neighborhoods through Dec. 10, with stops at Eagle Heights on Dec. 6, Cemetery Road on Dec. 7, west Gleneagle on Dec. 8, east Gleneagle on Dec. 9 and the Highland View community on Dec. 10.

Full route maps and more information are available at arlingtonwa.gov/santarun.

 

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