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Firefighters collecting toys for Sri Lanka trip

Richmond Fire Fighters Local 1286 members Dave Macdonald (from left), Brian Coombs and Kirby Graeme are encouraging Richmond residents and businesses to donate toys for their upcoming trip to Sri Lanka where they will be helping build a medical and dental clinic. -
Richmond Fire Fighters Local 1286 members Dave Macdonald (from left), Brian Coombs and Kirby Graeme are encouraging Richmond residents and businesses to donate toys for their upcoming trip to Sri Lanka where they will be helping build a medical and dental clinic.
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Two dozen local firefighters will be helping build a medical and dental clinic at Sahana Children's Village in Sri Lanka starting late next month, and they're hoping to spread cheer to area children by bringing along toys for everyone they encounter.

And members of Richmond Fire Fighters Local 1286 are hoping the public will once again come forward to donate toys to the effort.

"The response we have received in previous years has been overwhelming and we are hoping for that again," said organizer Amar Gottenbos. "We will be handing out toys to every child we can, at the work site, at schools, hospitals and in the villages. We are asking for the public to donate toys that we can easily transport to Sri Lanka."

The team of local firefighters will be travelling to Sri Lanka in late February and early March. They will be working with AIM International, a non-profit, non-governmental agency headquartered in Vancouver, and Global Action, which operates in 75 countries.

"This village will change the lives of children who have been orphaned by a bitter civil war and the tsunami that claimed over 100,000 lives in Sri Lanka in 2004," Gottenbos said. "It will provide a safe place that will nourish and educate them and create a place that will foster peace and understanding for future generations."

Westwind elementary school will be doing its part to make an everyday impact on the lives of children living half a world away.

The school has donated its old playground, which was dismantled and shipped via cargo container to Sri Lanka some time ago. It will be reassembled at the children's village to give the area's orphans something they don't currently have.

Toys can be dropped off at No. 1 Fire Hall, 6960 Gilbert Rd., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

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