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‘Everybody helping out’
Gift drive under way at stations
Aerials House Donati18A2D5
Forsyth County firefighters Chantz Adams, Paul McAfee and Kevin Lindsey sort items donated to Station 1 for Aerial's House on Tuesday afternoon. - photo by Emily Saunders
Aerial’s House

• To learn more about donating a toy, contact (770) 781-2180, Ext. 0, or go online at

• For more on receiving toys through Aerial’s House, call the Forsyth County Family YMCA at (678) 341-6337.

About 1,200 children received a Christmas gift last year through the Aerial’s House program.

But the real gift for Carolyn DeKalb continues to be the reward in knowing she played a role in bringing the holiday spirit to those who need it most.

“My favorite thing at Christmas is seeing my children’s eyes light up,” said DeKalb, a senior administrative assistant with the Forsyth County Fire Department.

“I know by helping this way, there are parents who can now see their kids’ eyes light up.”

The fire department’s fundraiser, now in its seventh year, was the brainchild of Fire Chief Danny Bowman. The name, he said, is shared by a fire truck’s hook and ladder.

What started off as a gift collection for about 75 children has added hundreds to its list. Bowman said the department looks forward to it every year.

“I realize fully that there are those who struggle this time of year,” he said. “To me personally, this is my way of helping those in need. To say it warms my heart is a vast understatement.”

As the toy collection has grown over the years, DeKalb said the department acquired additional help from other local nonprofits.

“Before it used to be everybody did their own separate thing, but last year we all got together and said we can help them a lot more by us all pulling our resources together so that they had food ... heat, clothing and toys,” she said.

DeKalb said the collaboration includes United Way of Forsyth, the local school system, The Place of Forsyth County and the Forsyth County Family YMCA.

Fire stations throughout the county will serve as drop-off points for new, unwrapped toys through Dec. 13. The YMCA has agreed to be the pick-up location for families in need.

“If it wasn’t for everybody doing this together, I don’t think any of this would get done,” DeKalb said. “And having everybody helping out makes it even more heartwarming.”

With the slow economy and rising unemployment, DeKalb said there are even more people in need this year. But Bowman said he is hopeful more people will step up.

“There are many, many who need our help to make Christmas what it should be,” he said. “Dropping off a new, unwrapped toy at any Forsyth County fire station will make a huge difference this Christmas.”