Sunnyside fire department volunteers

Sunnyside fire department volunteers took time out from training Thursday, Dec. 19 after noon to help wrap presents for the 10 families the department adopted this season. Pictured with tape and wrapping paper are, from left, volunteer Eli Gonzalez, Firefighter/paramedic Kellison Dabling and volunteer Isaac Placzek.

SUNNYSIDE — When Sunnyside Fire Captain Tony Castillo stood up to thank the local Nouvella Club for its donation of toys, food and money, no one expected to see the veteran fireman choke up.

His eyes watered as he described how big the need is for toys for local children during the holidays.

Noting that the necessities most people might expect families to want like food and a warm home, mean little if there isn’t a present for each child.

“Kids don’t care about those things,” he commented. “On Christmas morning they ignore the rumbling in their bellies to see if there is a Christmas present under the tree,” Castillo told the club members at their annual Christmas tea party Thursday, Dec. 19.

Castillo, who has been collecting toys for local children and families for nearly 20 years, said his fellow firefighters see children in all kinds of conditions.

“We raise money for the toy drive with funds from our pass the hat, and chili feeds during the Lighted Christmas Parade,” Castillo added.

“But your toy drive helps stretch our supply of toys to cover more children,” he declared.

“We’re also lucky to have several businessmen make donations to help with the toy drive,” he added.

Later Thursday afternoon, the fire department training room was transformed into a giant wrapping center as everyone from volunteer trainees to Fire Chief Ken Anderson pitching in to wrap presents.

Castillo said firemen will be delivering presents on Christmas eve to 10 local families.

“We’ll finish wrapping on Tuesday,” Castillo explained.

One thing’s for sure, there is bound to be more than one first responder wiping tears away as they complete special deliver duty.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at

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