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Berea Fire Department hosts hydrant painting competition for toy drive

Posted at 5:34 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 17:34:36-04

BEREA, Ky. (LEX 18) — The City of Berea Fire Department has found a new use for the city's fire hydrants. For the first time, the department is asking the city and surrounding areas to paint them to raise money for a toy drive.

Brent Billings, with the Berea Fire Department, says, "We take all that money raised, and we go out, and we buy gifts and clothes for kids in our community. The money stays right here in Berea."

Every year, the department raises money for a toy drive for families that may not have enough for kids' holiday presents. This year other city departments and residents are getting creative in the painting competition.

Krista Carpenter with the City of Berea says, "It's really cool to see the community all come together and make Berea prettier and raise money for a good cause."

The department reaches out to families in need in advance, so they'll know exactly what's needed. Firefighters say they saw an uptick in community need during COVID and anticipate more need this year because of inflation.

Billings says, "This year is the same with inflation. Prices are going up and everything. Families are in struggle and hard times right now. We all are."

Berea firefighters say there are more than 300 fire hydrants spread across this city, and so far, a third of them have been committed to be painted. One Richmond mom, Ashley Wiley, says she appreciates what the department is doing for parents in need.

"It was a great find for me because I can do self-care and help someone else -- which I have been there," shares Wiley.

Wiley says she has a personal reason to contribute. "I have been in that position, and I know how it feels to not know what the next step in doing what you would like for your kids, like just trying to survive. So, I'm glad to be able to help them and also do something for myself at the same time," says Wiley.

Everyone is invited to donate $20 to decorate a hydrant and help make a family's holiday brighter. Firefighters say it's special to see the extra interest from the community.

Billings says, "Driving past a hydrant, seeing people out there painting, seeing a new hydrant that's finished and painted ill pull over on the side of the road, and I'll stop and look at it and see what all they've done but, the creativity is mind-blowing."