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Firefighter/Paramedics Go on Holiday Spree for Kids

MONTEBELLO, Calif.-- About 19 eager Montebello Fire Department personnel filled up shopping carts Thursday as they went on a shopping spree at Toys R Us for area children.

They took part in the Spark of Love toy drive, spending $7,500 on toys for Montebello infants, children and teens for Christmas.

We are able to buy toys for kids who would otherwise go without through the generous donations from local businesses and individuals, said firefighter/paramedic Frank Osario, program coordinator.

It s an exciting program, said Carlos Garcia, firefighter/paramedic, as he prepared to fill his blue cart at the Toys R Us on Montebello Boulevard.

I like sports, so I am going to load up on baseball gloves, soccer balls and other sports items, Garcia said. I want kids to be active and not just sit in front of a computer playing games.

Osario, who has been with the department for about seven years, told his fellow shoppers that all the items in the store were open game except for the electronics department.

Firefighter Ruben Castillo headed straight to the shelves stocked with Star Wars-related items.

I am a Star Wars fanatic, he said as he piled action figures and starships into his cart. I loved this stuff growing up, and so do my two sons, ages 3 and 5.

After about 10 minutes, Garcia, with an array of sports-minded toys, could barely look over the pile as he maneuvered his cart to the checkout stand.

Firefighter after firefighter brought their toys up to the front of the store, while Store Manager George Robinson looked on.

This is great for the kids, he said. They seem to be filling up their carts faster this year.

About 45 minutes later, the shopping was done and all the bags of toys were loaded up in the 12-by-6-foot cab of one of the department s truck.

The toys will be stored at a city facility until they are delivered to the kids.

sandra.molina@sgvn.com

(562) 698-5367, Ext. 3028

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