Toy and Coat Drive has successful year

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Donations filled two trucks instead of one by the day of the Christmas parade this year

By Shaina Stockton

INDEPENDENCE — The Independence Cares Toy and Coat Drive celebrated a successful year of donations, filling not one but two trucks in time for the annual Christmas parade in Independence.
Gary Hash, Independence Fire Department Chief, said in a statement to the paper on Monday that, while there wasn’t an official count on donations, it was the first time he remembered having to use two separate vehicles to fit all of the donations they’d received from the community.
“We mainly had to use another vehicle to hold the items because of the weather; but then the donations poured into the other vehicle. I know we couldn’t have gotten everything into one truck,” Hash said.
The parade weathered some light rain this year; so donations in the open bed truck were covered by a tarp until they could reach the VFW for their annual delivery.
After the parade, the fire department members’ children visited with Santa before following their parents to the VFW, where they helped the department members carry in the donations.
“I believe this was the best year we’ve ever had,” said Hash. He thanked everyone who was involved with making the project a success.
Matthew Adams, Fire Captain, echoed Hash’s sentiments, stating, “I really appreciate the support to help the children. It was a great success. And a big thanks goes out to the fire department children. They work so hard each year, probably harder than most adults, collecting toys and coats. I am very proud of them for their work,” Adams said.
The annual “Independence Cares” initiative oversees the collection of toys and coats that are then delivered to the Independence VFW building after the town’s annual parade. It is a partnership among the Independence Fire and Police Departments and the Town of Independence.
The drive ties in with the VFW’s annual Grayson County Angel Tree Project, and the donations are used to fulfill any requests that are left over after citizen donations.
The VFW’s angel trees were set up at Roses in Galax and Guynn’s Furniture in Independence this year. Donations for the Toy and Coat Drive were accepted at dropoff points, including Adams Building Supply in Independence, the Independence Town Office, Woody’s Pharmacy in Independence, and the Gazette/Declaration office in Galax.
The Angel Tree Committee ensures that each child will have their angel tree wishes granted. Monetary donations are also accepted to help the committee shop for any children that are not chosen from the angel trees.