Giving and receiving presents during the holiday season is something most of us look forward to each year. We put up our holiday decorations and await that hour when we can sit down with family and enjoy the abundance that comes our way. However, there are those, who because of one reason or another, cannot even look to extras as financial constraints forces their attention towards just feeding their families. Because of this the Auburn Rural and Auburn City Fire Departments have given in another way by collecting funds to make food baskets for those less fortunate during the holiday season.
The departments, who have a history of working together to help those in the community, have been collecting and making food baskets during Christmas time for over 40 years. It is something they look forward to doing each and every year. Firefighters put their own money back out of their checks throughout the year to prepare for the baskets. They also go around to business asking for donations and accept donations from the private sector as well. They do not do wish for any accolades for what they do, in fact if it were not for trying to get donations through advertising, they would most likely keep it to themselves.
Rural Fire Chief Jim Kutzman says he has been on the department for 23 years and says the firefighters have been collecting for the baskets ever since he can remember. It is something the firefighters really like to do, said Kutzman.
“We go by the school and talk to the counselors there and find out who is in need, they have a pretty good idea. We then go from there and start going to businesses asking for donations,” said Kutzman, adding they also take names of those in need form the community.
If anyone in the Auburn Rural or City Fire Department service area knows someone who is in need of food during the holiday they can contact chief Jim Kutzman at 725-1925 or Chief Jeff Gregory at 542-5009.
The service area for the Auburn Rural and City Fire Departments is anything from Warren County to Mud River Church, all the way to the Butler County line to Homer Chapel, a portion of Highway 100 to the Simpson County line and the city of Auburn. The departments cover 155 square miles.
“I feel like it is very important to help out because we have quite a few families in this area that are in need of help. It is good helping them out this time of year. I feel they don’t get enough help,” said Randy Rust, a 17-year Auburn firefighter.
After collecting the food, the firefighters and their spouses get together and prepare the baskets then deliver them to the families the weekend before Christmas. The baskets contain dry and canned goods, bread, peanut butter and other goodies. “We try to put things in there that will last for along time, not just for one meal,” said Kutzman.