Last week, a partnership between the Austintown Fire Department and a local car club helped several Austintown families have a better Christmas.
The annual Shop with a Fireman program brought gifts to seven families who are in need this month.
''This is the second year we have partnered with the Chicken Coupe Cruisers car club,'' said Austintown Fire Chief Andy Frost.
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Chicken Coupe Cruisers president Dick Frost presented a check last week for $4,700 to Austintown firemen, assistant chief Bob Williams, John Fritz, Mike Hebebrand, and George Teutsch in time for the Shop with a Fireman program.
The Chicken Coupe Cruisers car club organizes Sunday cruises at Quaker Steak and Lube. Each week, the club holds raffles and drawings to raise funds for community projects. Car club members Gary and Carla Zinz, John Fox, Tony Saadeh, Harry Barber and Debbie Frost worked to bring in funds for the Shop with a Fireman program.
Each December the car club presents the proceeds from the funding drive to the Austintown Fire Department to use in providing Christmas to local families who are struggling. Last year the club donated $3,500 and this year the club raised $4,700.
''Each year they expand the program,'' Frost said. ''They hope to do even more next year.''
Before the fire department receives the funds, they seek names of families who are in need. Frost said his department works closely with Maribeth McGlynn, senior guidance counselor at Fitch. McGlynn helps to identify needy families for the program.
Once families are chosen, the fire department purchases gift cards from local stores to be used for toys and clothing. The department also includes gift cards for groceries and even utility bills.
''We try to meet whatever the family's needs are,'' Frost said.