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Updated: 12/18/2013 08:00:02AM

Le France to be loaded with toys Saturday

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Santa Claus won’t be arriving at some Bartow houses this year in a reindeer-powered sleigh. He’s going to be cruising into town on Saturday aboard the city’s vintage 1926 Le France fire engine.

Regardless of his transportation, the jolly old elf will still be bringing bags full of goodies to good boys and girls, thanks to the Bartow Fire Department.

For the 12th year, the city’s fire department has raised funds and solicited toys for needy Bartow families, and this year, nine families will reap the department’s largesse.

According to Lt. Jimmy Schaill, the department has accumulated gifts for all 47 children who range in age from toddlers to teens. The department also will provide gift cards to cover the costs of a Christmas feast for each family. The department’s efforts were headed up by firefighter John Calandros and Schaill.

According to Schaill, the families the fire department endows with Christmas cheer were chosen from the more than 275 families that applied for holiday assistance through the Church Service Center.

“This is something we really like to do,” Schaill said. “We can make some children happy for Christmas. It’s just a great thing to do when otherwise they may not have had any Christmas at all.”

The department started its Christmas gift drive in October and wrapped the accumulated gifts that range from stuffed toys to action figures to bicycles on Tuesday.

Early on Saturday, the department’s Santa will board the Le France along with his firefighter elves to make his holiday deliveries to those families.

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