DRT toy collectors to go 'Up on the Rooftop'

Published 5:23 pm Friday, November 11, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Santa's reindeers won't be the only ones prancing and pawing on the rooftops this holiday season.
Daniel White, a fireman with Atmore Fire &Rescue Department, and DeeDra Kelley from Atmore Disaster Response Team will take to the roof of the Fred's building on Lindberg Avenue in a continued effort to collect toys for children affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The pair will climb to the roof of the discount retailer at 5 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 and will not come down until their full-size pick-up truck is filled with new toys.
Members of the Disaster Response Team and Atmore firemen will be on the ground to collect toys and money that will be delivered to a small community of about 300 people in Coden, Ala. The area has a lot of children and was devastated by Katrina's floodwaters.
"We went there about three weekends ago," Kelley said. "They had no power, no drinking water and were still living in tents outside of their damaged homes."
The Disaster Response Team has already begun a Christmas shoebox drive to provide children with gifts this year. Kelley will be collecting shoeboxes filled with new toys until Nov. 30. The team will deliver the boxes and collected toys on Dec. 10.
White, the secretary/treasurer for the local firefighters union, was sitting around the firehouse one day trying to think of something he and his fellow firemen could do for children during the holidays when he decided to help the Kelleys.
"We thought about Toys for Tots," White said. "I felt that would be a good way to help children. We could never get in touch with them and then I thought about DeeDra and Joey. I knew they had done a lot to help the hurricane victims and thought we might be able to do something together. That way we could keep the help local and know exactly where it was going to."
White wants as many toys as possible to go to Coden. He is determined to give the children of the small town hope.
"All of the kids in the damaged areas are left with nothing," White said. "They need to know that there are people out there that care about them and what is happening in their lives. The kids are our future. We need to give them hope and a toy that costs as little as $3 or $4 will make a kid's day after what they have been through."
White also wants for the firemen to be seen by the public in a different way of helping the community out. Being involved in the community and doing his part to better it in any way is a goal for the young fireman.
White's only concern for the fundraising event is that it is the same day as the Alabama vs. Auburn football game.
"I hope that everyone will take a break from the game to come support us," he said.
Without any prior knowledge, White contacted Troy Downey, Fred's manager for permission to hold the toy drive. Fred's was more than happy to accommodate. The event will make the store's annual six-hour sale all the more fun. The sale will run from 5 a.m. until 11 a.m.
"I think it is a wonderful concept," Downey said. "We plan to do what we can to make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone in the community."

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