Local firefighters are once again going above and beyond as they reach out to the residents to encourage them to give what they can heading into the Christmas season — the operative word being “above.”
Westlock firefighter, Lt. Brian Hegedus will take to the skies for the fourth year in a row for the annual Firefighter in the Sky event to help raise food, cash and clothing for those less fortunate this holiday season. He will ascend the 50-foot fire truck ladder Dec. 22 at one of the two grocery stores, which will cap off the campaign.
Until then, starting Nov. 24, firefighters will be at Sobeys and the Independent grocery stores every Sunday and Wednesday to accept donations of food and cash that will go to the Westlock and District Food Bank and coats and clothing, for all ages, that will go to Family and Community Support Services to help them in their holiday endeavours, including Coats for Kids.
“It’s something that I enjoy doing,” said Hegedus. “It’s just something do to show we’re there supporting the community. It has kind of been my baby since Day 1.”
Growing up in a single-parent family, Hegedus said he knows how difficult it can be to get ahead, especially at the holidays so wanted to do something for those who may be down on their luck during Christmas.
“We just want to bring awareness to the community and get the community involved in helping everybody in general and everybody that needs help,” said Hegedus.
The culminating event where Hegedus climbs the latter is dependent on the conditions of the day it happens, but he has gone up that ladder, in full gear, in -30 degree weather, for up to seven hours so far, and he plans on staying up there Dec. 22 until their goal is met, usually 1,000 pounds of food and $1,000 for the day.
“I’m pretty excited to be doing it this year anxious to see if we can beat our totals from years before,” he said.
In its first three years the campaign has raised $10,619, along with 9,200 pounds of food, and more than 55 bags of clothing, all of which were donated to the food bank and FCSS.
Residents can drop off their contributions every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and every Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. at either of the grocery stores, until Dec. 22, when Hegedus climbs that ladder.
“Just remember that everybody is cold this time of year and we just need whatever donation anybody can give.”
Residents can also follow along on the Westlock Fire Department Facebook page to stay up-to-date on the donations raised after every Sunday and Wednesday.