Local kids go shopping with Decatur firefighters

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DECATUR – Not every kids will have a gift under the tree this Christmas, and many of those who do won't always get what they really want.

That's the idea behind "Shop with a Firefighter," which happened on Tuesday, December 8, at 6 PM at the Walmart in north Decatur.

Every year, the Decatur Fire Department teams up with Local 505, Archer Daniels Midland and the Macon County Community fund. The funds raised this year will benefit 17 children who are handpicked by a team of school officials from Decatur's Harris and Garfield schools.

The firefighters encourage school officials to find "the neediest of the neediest" and try not to find different children each year.

Dustin York, a Decatur firefighter who has been working with program since joining the department 8 years ago, says it's always such a wonderful feeling to watch the kids get what they want.

"When I was a kid, Christmas was the most exciting day of the year. I couldn't wait to see what gifts were under the tree" he told WAND News on Tuesday.

"I can't imagine what it would be like to have nothing."    

The "Shop with a Firefighter" event takes place every year a few weeks before Christmas.

The kids usually have their parents drop them off, so they can pick out what they want on their own.

Walmart North in Decatur throws a private party complete with treats and special gifts for the kids, who then take to the isle - each teamed up with a Decatur firefighter. Sometimes, the firefighters bring their spouses or family members along to join in the fun.

This year, each child received $150 to purchase anything they want. The firefighters help the kids figure out their budget and encourage them to buy gifts for themselves.

"But sometimes they just can't do it. Sometimes, they just have to buy a gift for their younger siblings, a family member or maybe a good friend at school" York added. 

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