Members of Minot's Local 1157 chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters had to keep coming back to the check-out line at Walmart because they couldn't seem to find a way to spend enough money Friday morning.
The members had volunteered to shop for the "Toys for Tots" program on their day off to benefit the area's less fortunate children at Christmas.
When the six members who shopped Friday went to check out with overflowing carts of toys, they found that they had only reached half of their budget of more tyhan $2,600. That meant they had to keep going back to buy more toys.
Flint McColgan/MDN • Members of Minot’s Local 1157 chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters go through the check-out line at Walmart where they purchased more than $2,600 worth of presents for less fortunate area children for Christmas.
The money was collected through members of the IAFF and a donation from Verendrye Electric Cooperative.
"It's fun to shop this way," said Pat Muus, the vice president of Local 1157. They had a large budget so he and the others would see things, like crafts projects, perfumes and colognes, books, MP3 players, and fire truck toys, and dump several of them in a cart. Despite their enthusiasm, it seems that, as far as children's toys go, their dollars stretched quite a bit.
The fire fighters worked both from lists given to them by charity organizations to suggest toys for boys or girls of various ages as well as finding things that they thought the children might enjoy.
"It's kind of a good time. You typically don't get to spend that much money when you're running around Christmas shopping," Muus said. "It's neat to have that feeling of giving for kids you don't even know."
Muus said that this is either the fourth or fifth year that the union has done the Toys for Tots program. Contributions were a little lower this year due to the state of the city, "especially with the flood and everything else that's gone on with the kids, losing the parks and things like that, we really wanted to make sure we were a part of it again."
The gifts were paid for out of the union bank account, which is replenished throughout the year.
"This wasn't a specific fundraiser," Muus said. "We raise money throughout the year and do different events."
The union will be hosting the vendor show at the annual North Dakota Firefighter's Association's State Fire School, in Minot from Feb. 28 through March 3 at various locations in the city.
If anybody is interested in contributing to the union fund for their events throughout the year, or for next year's "Toys for Tots" program, Muus said that people often just call the fire department, at 857-4740, which has forwarded the calls to the union in the past.