Longtime Atlanta toy drive almost canceled after death of councilman

An Atlanta fire station that has held a toy drive every Christmas for nearly half a century came close to canceling this year’s event.

Each year, the event at Atlanta Fire Station #16 was aided by a large financial donation to the Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation from Councilman Ivory Lee Young, a press release said. On Nov. 16, Young died following a battle with cancer.

The year’s event was nearly canceled, but then the foundation received a financial contribution from an Atlanta-based businessman, Antonio Brown.

Fire Chief Randall B. Slaughter said the “benevolent and very generous donation” will go directly to the funding of Christmas bicycles for underprivileged children.

“Two things are true: Our children represent 100 percent of our future and this donation just made the future a little brighter this Christmas Day,” Slaughter said in a statement.

Families at the event receive gifts from Santa and a holiday lunch from Church's Chicken. Organizers expect to serve nearly 600 kids and their parents.

Shirley Anne Smith, executive director of Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation, said Brown's donation will allow the 47-year tradition and the legacy of Councilman Ivory Lee Young to continue.

The Firehouse Toy Drive & Luncheon will take place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1048 Joseph E. Boone Blvd NW.

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