Firefighters to deliver stockings, cheer to kids at CAPA shelter

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Firefighters to deliver stockings, cheer to kids at CAPA shelter

By AMY COYNE BREDESON
abredeson@islandpacket.com
843-706-8134
Published Thursday, December 23, 2010   |  350 Words  |  

Every year the firefighters of the City of Beaufort and Town of Port Royal draw names for Secret Santa. This year they decided to do something a little different. Instead of giving each other gifts, they used their money to buy stockings, candy and other goodies for some local children who could use a little holiday cheer.

Firefighter Lt. Reece Bertholf suggested he and his co-workers do something for the children staying at the local nonprofit Child Abuse Prevention Association's Open Arms Shelter. The other firefighters jumped on board with his idea, and CAPA gladly accepted the help.

Several firefighters decorated the shelter inside and out earlier this month, hanging lights and about 2,000 ornaments throughout the house. Each ornament represented one child cared for at the shelter over the past 25 years it has been open.

The Open Arms Shelter offers a safe haven for children from birth to age 21 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. The facility serves the children of Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Allendale and Colleton counties.

CAPA community relations coordinator Gloria Duryea said there are six children staying at the shelter now, but that number can change at any time. Duryea said the children were so excited to see the shelter decorated for the holidays when they came home from school one day in early December.

"They're really making a difference for us," Duryea said about the firefighters. "They've been a huge help, and we really, really appreciate their energy and all their help this holiday season."

But Bertholf and his friends aren't stopping with the holiday decorations. They have bought and filled stockings for the kids. Some have made cookies. Others will prepare lasagna for the children. They will deliver everything to the shelter on Christmas Eve along with a very special guest -- Santa Claus.

"We're just hoping if a child is unfortunate enough to have to be in the shelter over Christmas that we made it a little better for them," Bertholf said.