By KATHY JONES
Special to The Eagle
Dozens of volunteers filled the fellowship hall of the Pine Island United Methodist Church Friday to wrap the almost 750 gifts collected and purchased for this year's FISH Christmas Basket Brigade.
Volunteer gift wrappers
Donna Ziegelman and Janet Pinnell wrap toys for island children Friday at Pine Island United Methodist Church for this year’s FISH?Christmas Basket Brigade.
"Our volunteers come from all over to benefit our community at this time of year," said Peg Harmon who heads the Brigade for FISH. "We've been doing this for over 20 years and this year we will provide three toys each for 244 children. And they're nice toys such as Stuffies, Legos and Nerfs."
Harmon noted it's not only full-time residents who volunteer.
"We have a couple who comes to stay at the KOA part of the year," she said. "They go door to door there collecting funds, then buy toys and even make sure anything needing batteries has them."
Ann Thomas said there was a simple reason she was there to volunteer. "It's Christmas and I'm retired. I want to give back to say thanks for the good life I have had."
In addition to toys for children under 13, teens receive a $40 gift card and 25 older adults without children also get a Christmas treat.
"It's a lot of work, but well worth it," said Harmon. "After the toys are picked up by the parents tomorrow, I'll go home and have a ten minute nervous breakdown, then begin planning for next year."