Auxiliary helps deliver cheer
A cozy stuffed animal can bring comfort to a child during an emergency.
C.W. Hilliard Auxiliary Unit 401 delivered around 40 stuffed animals to Nassau County Fire Rescue Station 50 firefighters July 24.
Sergeant-at-Arms Jackie Black said the auxiliary wanted to provide relief to area children.
“Comfort animals, when there’s like a fire or an accident or something and there’s children involved, it helps comfort them when they’re frightened and stuff like that,” she added.
Auxiliary members have collected more than 200 stuffed toys for delivery to fire stations in Callahan, Hilliard and Bryceville.
NCFR Lt. Adam Bolger said that firefighters keep a red toolbox onboard that contains items like stuffed animals, coloring books, pacifiers and finger puppets to help children and even adults with special needs cope.
“It takes a community to raise a child,” he said. “Whenever you donate, you are helping a child out in this community. And everything you do goes directly to the Nassau County Fire Rescue and to the community.”
The project meant a lot to auxiliary member Natalie Sloan, who was accompanied by her children, Sarah and Caleb. Her late dad, Gary Garver, was a U.S. Navy veteran. He was also active in local veterans’ groups.
“I grew up in the VFW, and then just showing respect for veterans and helping veterans and putting that out there, and then now I’m bringing my kids up and trying to teach them to respect veterans and pay respect for what Papa fought for and all the veterans,” she said.
Member Sierra Black said that she has enjoyed participating in service activities, including distributing the stuffed toys and school supplies.
Additional community projects include distributing backpacks to area schools.
“We delivered about 30 backpacks last year to Callahan Elementary,” Black said. “This year we’re going to try to get Hilliard, Bryceville and Callahan Intermediate.”
Chaplain Betty Garver said the ladies also plan to present gift bags filled with socks, toiletries and handmade shawls to the five female military veterans at the Robert H. Jenkins Veterans Domiciliary in Lake City Friday.
The auxiliary participates in numerous projects throughout the year. Members meet at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at the C.W. Hilliard American Legion Post 401 at 37405 Henry Smith Rd., Hilliard.