It’s true: Santa wore a KCFR suit

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They never get enough credit. Nor have they ever sought it.

But the tireless, warm-hearted souls at Kootenai County Fire & Rescue do a tremendous amount of work for Press Christmas for All. For years now, they’ve been as good a partner as anyone could wish.

The division of duties goes something like this:

The Press is responsible for promoting the event and leading the fundraising charge. Donations pour into the newspaper via the mail, electronic and telephonic credit card donations, and citizens dropping off contributions at the newspaper office. Press business office staff gather in the moolah and ensure every penny gets safely to corporate headquarters a block away. They also track the names of donors so we can publish them in the paper.

The newspaper’s parent, The Hagadone Corp., which is the entity that gained nonprofit status for Christmas for All more than three decades ago, accounts for every cent. Eric Haakenson is the unsung hero who works so hard behind the scenes. Among his responsibilities is coordinating with the program’s two major business sponsors, Super 1 Foods and Shopko, to order the appropriate number of gift cards and ensure they’re safely delivered to Kootenai County Fire & Rescue.

But before all of that happens? Our friends at KCFR have long been hard at work.

Under the guidance of Press City Editor Maureen Dolan, thousands of applications are distributed before Thanksgiving, filled out and then turned in to KCFR, where Jessie Morrow takes over. Under Jessie’s leadership and with a lot of help from Jayme Nipp and others, KCFR keeps an updated database that includes every single application. That gives the program a complete record of who’s getting help, when and how much, and it also helps ward off potential fraud from applicants. It’s a tremendous, at times overwhelming, endeavor. But Jessie & Co. rise to the task every year.

Then comes the magic. For a couple of days before Christmas, Kootenai County Fire & Rescue exudes the holiday spirit and welcomes in all those who need a little help this time around. They distribute the gift cards in a way that protects the recipients’ identity and preserves their dignity. It’s a festive atmosphere, guaranteed to put smiles on many hundreds of faces unused to that facial exercise.

Christmas might be over now, but the spirit of love and generosity isn’t about to abate. We’re so grateful to the employees and the board of directors at KCFR for ensuring every county resident, no matter their lot in life at the time, is able to have a merry little Christmas. Press Christmas for All, which just completed its 33rd year, would simply not be possible without them.

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