MOUNT VERNON — The holiday giving spirit arrived early in Knox County for the 36th annual Christmas in July event Saturday.
Interchurch pantries’ supplies tend to run low due to high demand during the summer months, as children are now home from school and without school-provided lunches and breakfasts. Collection sites were established across the county in Centerburg, Bladensburg, Danville, Fredericktown and Mount Vernon.
The Station Break Senior Center of Knox County held its Community Bazaar Day Saturday, with a special “Christmas in July” theme due to the new addition of a Toys for Tots drive. Knox Marines Toys for Tots is a program run through the Mount Vernon Fire Department that collects new toys around the holiday season to give to children in need in the area. The Station Break holds the community bazaar to raise money for the Station Break’s general fund. The addition of the Toys for Tots drive came from a desire to help others in the community as well as The Station Break.
“We’re just trying to raise money for improvement projects, one of them being the parking lot out here. It’s going to cost quite a bit of money to have it completely resurfaced, so we’re hoping this is going to be a starting point for future fundraisers to help raise money to cover that,” said Meredith Lowther, executive director of The Station Break. “We partnered with Toys for Tots, and since we’re doing a Christmas in July theme, we thought that would be a good option to have them come in and also collect, that way we can give back to the community as well.”
The Knox County Humane Society was also a partner of the event, and brought in dogs from the shelter that are available to be adopted. Lowther said she is grateful for the partners as well as the community for supporting the Station Break, and hopes it continues in the future.
Holly Bredefield, coordinator for Knox County Marines Toys for Tots, said the event is a great opportunity for the organization to accept more donations for the upcoming holiday season.
“Anywhere we’re asked to be, we’ll be there. We’re getting some things, and we’re very happy to be a part of it,” Bredefield said.
Members of the Mount Vernon Fire Department brought one of the station’s fire engines throughout the day, which proved to be an exciting addition to the event for the children attending. Children were able to sit in the driver’s seat and try on a helmet, getting a small glimpse into what it’s like to be a firefighter.
“The kids love it, oh my gosh, you should see the smiles on their faces,” Bredefield said.
Members from the MVFD were happy to be a part of the day and to support the cause.
“We’re always happy to be out here to support our community, especially for a thing we feel strongly about with Toys for Tots,” said firefighter Jared McCann. “We’re happy to be a part of something that seems to take off more and more every year it seems like, and it definitely starts to take off more around November and December. It’s something that everyone helps out with at the station, all three crews, chief, everyone included. Everyone does a really good job and it helps our community.”